LA mixologist Asmar calls his Race to the Bottom a "soundtrack to life," but post-Sept. 11 xenophobia could limit his audience (especially with the Arabic script that adorns the cover). If you're one of those asses, clear that head, and you'll hear sounds he spent more than a year assembling, from scores of different musicians, MCs, tapes, breakbeats and other sources I'm not privy to. Cavernous dub reggae, downtempo and DJ Premier hip-hop production meshes with Brazilian rhythms and Middle Eastern vocals peacefully and casually. The 13 tracks congeal naturally enough to make you wonder why this hasn't been attempted before. The voices do stand out and could be where some listener security ends—at first. Move away from the recent past, though, and Race to the Bottom will reward you with new shades of melody you initially mistook for dissonance. Are these songs from another dimension? Or is the future staring you in the face? And if this is indeed a follow-up release, why don't you own its predecessor?
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