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So, ready for the next batch?  Here they are ... still primarily variations of EDM, downtempo and the like.  I'll give the dub and ambient material its own page.  

Guardians of Dalliance, a new name to me, turns out to be a fairly tight jazz group offering up all varieties from the near big-band sound of the first track, Calling, to the (for me) more appealing Oddly, which is a DnB-influenced downtempo track. 5, 4 Line returns to a somewhat blaring big band sound, and Transient, too, is a bit glib, with wahwah-pedaled guitar included in the mix …. Next! Transparent restores the smooth, soothing DnB rhythms, with a vocal riding on top and a decent hook at the chorus. Solitaire ups the energy level but I don't have the sense that this is really new … it’s by no means tired, it just feels like they were reaching too hard.  With Curious we’re back where I enjoy it more – a bit more funky and deliberate beats, nothing frantic. Plus, it’s an irresistible chorus: "Used to be afraid of knowing, but now I’m seriously curious." Twice Round and Beneath Sunrise are both too frantic for me, so I move on to Blue Green, a track that finds the Guardians once again in the DnB vein, but smoother this time -- though not as smooth as the track that follows, Atmospheric Engineering – this one definitely wins in the downtempo category and justifies the set.  For my money, you can forget the closer, New Swing Jazz, unless you’re looking to jump up.  Give these guys high marks for energy levels, I guess.


Amalgammation of Soundz Pt. 2 came to my attention due to a posting on forum – here’s a fine example of the subscription paying for itself by letting me hear an album before I commit to spending $15 or more. It’s a short set so I fleshed it out with tracks from an unsigned artist who posts his stuff on under the name Infinity Paradigm – this is spacey ambient material, for the most part, which I won't detail since it's not from the emusic vaults.  Resurrection leads off with a smoothly danceable downtempo contribution, while the second track, Alone in a Crowded Room, has a enigmatic theme and vocal motif, just slightly mitigated by the relaxed atmospheric beats. Next is Textures which marks a departure to a spacey, almost new-age track. For Real marries some easy DnB-inflected beats with a floating vocal line to produce an appealing track that only occasionally veers off toward fusion. Keyvan’s Paper (Document 1) strikes me as pleasantly generic breaky downtempo but might not be fine enough to carry off its length. Cedar is more efficient which is good, since it wants to be experimental. Actually, I kinda liked it once it got going, it had a nice element of insistence. The hit tune, of course, is Enchant Me, and between this disc and a couple of others, I have about 5 mixes of it, this one being the Original 12" mix, a version with a big bottom end which emphasizes the brushed snares sound that gives it a jazzy gloss. The vocal is enhanced, too – to good effect. The last track, Keyvan’s Paper (Document 3) opens with a xylophone riff that sets the jazz identity for this track … pleasant but not crucial.


Most of the alternate mixes of Enchant Me are on the No Categories 4 / Ubiquity Artists collection. This disc opens with Enchant Me (Ambient Version), a brief vocal-focused version. In a stunning transition we move to Greyboy’s Mastered the Art, a hip-hop track which is neither randy nor rambunctious … fundamentally friendly.  Ah, but then we get Sioux’s Reign Pt. 2 (Demo Version) which is the work of Nobody, creating atmosphere both musical and physical, suggesting nothing so much as a crazy K&D construction. What a close-the-side selection! OK, back to Enchant Me, Enchanted Dub this time around: oooh what a big bottom end you have! And there’s a really nice turn around from the bridge back into the chorus midway through…. Everything’s muy rico. The Dark Leaf track Electric Storm is a darkly aggressive DnB hit that I imagine could be a bit oppressive if you weren’t in the right mood. Snowboy and the Latin Section pump out a very steady and respectful Oya YeYe (UFO’s Tender Moments Mix) and tho’ I can’t love it, I do kinda like it … I respect it, gnome sayin? Quorum delivers some rough-cut breaks that command your attention on Renegades Theme… in a high energy setting, these beats would be welcome. Next up is the Beatless RMX of E.W. Wainwright’s The Healer. Hmmm, not sure I’d need to hear this again; there’s not enough development to warrant the attention. Tempo 2 offers Latinlectrofuzion (Ambient Pass) which repays your patience during the long intro with a meandering and not particularly memorable, even tho pleasant, track. I skipped ahead (after listening longer than it merited.) It seemed to be likewise with the next number, Entrada by Bobby Matos and John Santos, but the bassline bought my attention for long enough to see it through to the end.  Verdict?  Nice though not at all necessary. On to Miracles, a vocal change of pace from Loqate, but again, not terribly compelling. Fly In the Soup is a shameless bit of funk from Earl Moseley. Well, I guess you’d have to argue that this isn’t really very compelling either, although it swings with authority. Nobody returns, joined by 2 Mexicans with a hip-hop rooted effort, Shades of Orange. It’s more musically adventurous than I usually experience with hip-hop, and the rhymes are superior – glad to have it in the collection.  Enchant Me (Original Version -- which I believe is not the same as "Original 12" version".) Still a great song, and a definite downtempo pick to mix. For the last track on this set, James Combs (who?) brings us Intervention (Mr. Lee’s Put Another Analog on the Fire Mix) which is quirky like the Madnomad track 35 Summers, which is well loved…. This one may not be nearly as clever or as loveable, but it does build in a way that holds your interest … first time, anyhow.


Return with me now to the Guidance HiFidelity House Imprint (Number 3 this time). As before, there’s a track leading off the set: from, M Trax comes with Trip Chick, a funky deep house outing that warrants attention – nearly 8 minutes of pure danceability.  The real Guidance set actually starts off with Constant Love by Homebase which is reviewed elsewhere because I got a repaired version of this track from emusic when the mp3 file they had posted proved defective. If you haven’t yet found out, I rate this track very highly for downtempo mixability. Then on to hear Venus Attack Project deliver Riviera Paradise which establishes an easy-beat house tempo decked out with swirling synth lines, nice but not ground-breaking stuff. Well, the Dubtribe Sound System track that follows isn’t exactly ground-breakin either, but What You Feel in Your Heart makes up for that with sweet vocals in the background and smooth beats upfront, altogether an enticing item. Past and Future Kings is lite work by Santal and Terrence Downs – not one to return to. A far hotter number is Take it Back by Nuspirit Helsinki featuring Kasio – a bit more complex than the rest of the set, this features an active bassline, an infectious chorus and enlivening vocal touches on top of the easy beat. For a helping of personality, try Pat Barry’s What You Do (Solid State Mix) – the vocal touches are just the thing to make this stand out from the average instrumental house track even tho the instrumentation is not special. Then Dino and Terry offer Croque Monsieur which reminded me a bit of Aril Brikha …. Nicely touched with DnB energy, but firmly in acid jazz territory, this track makes much from little. On the narrative tip, King Britt and Ursula Rucker deliver Circe (in a Jazzanova remix), perfect for those times you wish for a bit more narrative substance in your music … how does the Odyessy strike you for a storyline? Ursula Rucker provides the perfect voice for dramatizing another point of view on this myth. Far less compelling is Elementis by Solaris Heights – too dependent on the cheesy side of synth tones for my liking. The set winds up with a Kevin Yost cut, Days Like These. Kevin Yost turns out reliably good house, but sometimes it’s a bit on the lounge-y side. In this track, the piano riff develops nicely and the beats are solid … neatly escaping abject lounge-ness, but not seeming at first like a necessary track by any has to grow on you.


Since we’re here, let’s wrap up the remaining set, Guidance HiFidelity House Imprint (1), which starts out with the appropriately inviting track, Theme from Guidance by Larry Heard. It’s a big, lazy house number with an irresistible warm fuzzy feel to it – play this when you’re coasting in for a landing. But not now – it’s time for your wake up call from Fresh and Low with a little number they call Wind on Water … hmmm, I don’t get it. Maybe the transition from the Larry Heard vibe is just too much … anyhow by the time the snakey little bassline has come to worm its way in to my heart, I’m impatient. Then the vocal riff hits and I’m captivated which is why you always want to listen to the end…. The rare message track among this collection gets its moment to testify by way of Opinion Rated R, intoned by Abacus … hey, I love these guys already, right? But this elicits a move for the >| button (that would be the "next track" button on your CD player, Home.) Echoes and Instruments finds Wamdue Kids relying too much on a vocoder effect (which never gets high marks from me) to set the tone for a tune that really doesn’t need the assist. The track romps along quite handily, as it happens, a very ingratiating 8 minutes in the service of the dance.  Next, please welcome Don Carlos who brings Karma (Jazzy Mix) -- these guys are quite prepared to work up a sweat with you. Uh-oh, here’s the vocorder again: Projekt PM’s When The Voices Come -- hit the >| button! (I know, I know, I was supposed to listen to the end....)  Let’s try Abacus again, this time on My Planet Rocks. This one carries you along with no preaching, or indeed much in the way of vocalizing at all …. Just steady beats. No so The Groove by Calysto which is portentous and doesn’t make up for it musically. Then Dope Eyes, turned in by the I-Levels, slips by us on very much a background level … more "nice but not necessary" house, much as I like it. Once again, Guidance closes out with a Kevin Yost joint: this time, it’s Natural High. But here’s this: an example of how not every sparsely-vocalled house track succeeds. In this case, there’s really nothing to love: no intriguing lyric, no compelling voice, no irresistible melody. And it’s not a bad track … it’s just that by now, stakes is high, and there’s better stuff in the emusic vaults.


House in Paradise is the title of the Belladona album which is up next. This set opens up with The Bridge featuring smoothly inviting house rhythms. Love Funk lives up to its name with a rompin’ funk bassline that anchors the trumpet and piano trills on top…it’s good but not great. Up Rising has too much of the squelchy sounds to really appeal to me, but it moves forward w/ undeniable energy … even so, there aren’t enough ideas in this song to justify the 9:36 playing time. ("Ideas?" you say, "Ideas in house music?  What's up with that?"  Well, it has been known to happen, and it's a fine thing when it I keep lookin' for it.)  Drum Boogie suffers from the same creative deficiency, although it’s not guilty of the same excessive length. And so it goes with the Latinesque Cocokoda. The next track, Drummer’s Paradise sounds like a live track (tho’ with the lack of liner notes on emusic’s offerings, you can’t be sure unless you find a copy of the meatspace version.) It’s an energetic track, probably better louder. Then with Stellar Haze, what’s this I hear? Could it be that Big Muff bassline from My Funny Valentine again? I swear that might be the most copied riff of recent times…and over top of it? Nothing special, really. But if you’re me, you don’t care because the bassline has you transfixed…nice tune. Next up is Psycho Rhodes, much jazzier than anything else on the set, but it doesn’t really break out and go somewhere until the last minute or so – not enough development to sustain interest. Then comes Planet Sensation, with its big bottom end and playful vibe; it develops nicely with some thoughtful piano over the rumbling beneath. Not bad, really. The album winds up with Love Clear, a sweet/lite house number that’s inviting despite itself. Since it clocks in at 9:41 total time, you could probably just take what pleases you from the track. The soprano sax at the end is nice, though … stick around for the late show, as Mr. Toad likes to say….


Moving on now to the Ubiquity 12inch Collection, which opens with Kim Edwards inviting you to Feel the Music. Nice breaks on this item, bass thinking out of the box and other appeals. This works for me. Not so The Other Side (feat Mc. Phluid), a Skyjuice joint. It’s a hip-hop item with just the style of bassline and drums that irritate me. The Hive Remix of this same tune that follows, is far more listenable for me. And then goes beyond "listenable" to intriguing. Yea, Hive! And then Skyjuice returns with Anonymous feat. Karry Walker, and I love the way it starts out, but the abrupt change of focus once the track kicks into gear puts it outside my preferred range…. And yet, it’s well-done. But forget that … How about Afternoon Focus (Vocal Feat. 2 Mex and ESP), DJ Nobody putatively presiding. This is like a mix of Morphine and Soul Coughing (or have I missed a whole other bunch of influences?) There’s nothing to this but bass and the rhyme, so I can’t imagine what the Instrumental version will bring … let’s find out. Hmmm, really just the thing itself w/ a tiny bit of frill on the top. Lean, very lean. Then the Joe Claussell Dub Version of Snowboy’s Casa Forte turns out to be one of those drum solo pieces that’s actually fun to hear. It turns out I’m not the world’s biggest Puracane fan … whereas I do enjoy Hefner. But Hefner can’t make this track, 14 Nights, entirely loveable. Still, it’s sophisticated and chilled, and wouldn’t diminish a mix…. That leaves P’Taah’s Raindrops (Instrumental Remix) to close out this collection of 12inchers from Ubiquity. This track sticks with the same easy jazzy vibe touched with bits of dissonance for interest that has characterized the past two releases. You can’t call it musically lazy, as you can with a few of the other artists we've reviewed. [In the tradition, this CD has two tracks obtained from by the group Sweet Trip: Aah Sea Life and Alura. The former suffers from an uncertain musical identity, seeming to want to try enough styles in one track to be sure and appeal to someone. It made me impatient. I found the latter track inhabiting that very amorphous electro-ambient space where I think (tho I may be wrong) not many people go these days. To entice you, there’s a generous serving of cheese. I wonder what the sound program was that produced this track….I found it awfully long to be so pointless.]


James Hardway’s Deeper, Wider, Smoother Shit serves up a totally instrumental version of the James Hardway experience, and I find myself missing the vocals that enlivened Positive Sweat. This guy is still the bomb, but there’s really only one track I would choose to mix with, titled Monique – it’s a downtempo peach. A few others – Deeper In, James’ Moods and Horns at the End all have qualities that make them interesting, but clearly they will have to grow on me.


Ready for Bugs? Got ‘em straight up and remixed. Beginning with Infinite Syndrome, then. About You must be one of their hits … it’s got the hook, the lyrics, the breaks. Very catchy number for the right set. The version of Let Go on this set is another goodie, but the RMX (reviewed below) is irresistible. This is a lighter, DnB-inflected track with an appealing vocal. Good, but not essential – by the end, I’d put it in the category "glad I heard it, but once will probably be enough". Superscience (The Dark Mix) is another goodie in the dark breaks category, though perhaps also a non-repeater. Broken has an intriguing lyric and vocal treatment, fairly spare production.  I love the bassline in the opening moments of The Oracle and a lot of the other instrumentation, but the lyrics leave me cold. Without ‘em, it’s like a Big Bud or other GLO joint -- though that's usually a sign of good things. Top Buzzer, however, doesn’t have those charms (or any others) goin’ for it: NEXT. On to Wrapped Up, which is another one of the hits, and has the RMXs to prove it (reviewed below). This one is mainly breaks style with a big ole bottom end. Respectable effort. Filed Under X has the ominous tone that tells you the reference in the title is certainly to the X-Files … it’s pretty effective, but it’s not my style…. You and I is lyrically a more interesting number, and with it’s moody vocals and slow bumpin tempo, it’s an attention grabber. And that’s before the trumpet filigree pops up. I like it. Last, there’s Bugs Theme (The Sequel) with the spoken word portion mixed right up front – so if you find it attention-grabbing, this is the mix for you. It’s otherwise breaky with a ragga influence popping up in places. Tacked on to this rather short album I put four remixes of Ike & Tina Turner material. The first one, Cussin’ Cryin’ and Carryin’ On, was new to me and the remix really rocks – this is worthy of resurrection in an uptempo spot surrounded by some rich funk. And it’s really short – under 3 minutes. Following is a quirky take on the classic, It’s Gonna Work Out Fine – in it’s own way, this is as raw as the original that it’s built on. It’s hot, no lie. The set closes out with two takes on A Fool In Love where in DJ Scooby fully fractures the vocals, putting 'em through a house mix blender, and gives us a radio edit of this concoction for good measure. The house treatment pretty much swallows up the Ike & Tina character of the track … .it’s all in what you like.


Well, I like the album of Bugs remixes (tho’ it is all too brief.) It leads off with the Bugs FM Mix of Wrapped Up – this one is distinguished chiefly by its very clean production, not tarted up with effects or such. The version of Bugs Theme that appears here is the one you want: the spoken word part is mixed down far enough not to take over the track, and the instrumentation holds lots of interest, with a captivating bassline moving the song eventually into a DnB motif. Muy rico. Likewise for Let Go, with its light lazy vocal mix that swells up and out … a perfect set-ender. Back to Wrapped Up, this time it’s Morcheeba’s Embrace the EMS Mix and it’s Morcheeba down to the ground, with the signature triphop licks and tempo. Ver’ nice. The version of Filed Under X offered here seems pretty much the same ominous, freaky drama track as before, maybe a bit higher energy level and more emphatic instrumentation. OK if you like it. And back again to Wrapped Up, first a Jamie Myerson RMX that, like the Morcheeba, very much bears the remixer's imprint … a lush and liquid mix, very spacious. And finally, the Bugs Re-Rub of this track, and Bugs delivers the goods: big ole bottom end, yesss indeed. Strut and turn, honey. Oh, actually, the final Wrapped Up remix is the Original LoFi AM Demo Mix, and that’s entirely accurate as a description of the sound … with all the other great versions to choose from, this one is truly not essential, but fun nonetheless. [A couple of tracks got wedged onto this disc: Nectar gives up the Happiness Re-Blessing Mix of Moj Aniol, which is some strange tribal house noize that’s really quite enjoyable; while the Lumpheads bang away at a tech house number called Rediscovery in a Crispen remix????  (Sorry, the mp3 ID tag got mussed up.)  And, finally, from the Studio !K7 website, Herbert’s mediocre Leave Me Now shares space with the Rae and Christian/Bobby Womack collaboration Get A Life, a wicked good soul tune with a nutty storyline -- and the Womack voice rules!]


It’s time for Nebula Nine, offering up their own particular shading of electro/breaks-into-electro-ambient or downtempo … in other words, there’s a world of influences here. Starts off slow with a scenesetting An Evening Out, a tempo that's continued into the following track. But wait:  there’s a mid-track change of pace and tempo and the intensity picks up … tho’ everything seems evenly touched with sonic cheese throughout I Love You and The Drive Home. The intensity rachets up again in Dreaming of You, and rhythm has become established as the conceptual engine of this track, but another change before the end leads into techey noises. So they pitch us the buzzy All I Ever Wanted which thuds its way into your consciousness and then succeeds in winding itself all around you in a pretty captivating way. The Nine hit their high mark with Passion, a bumpin’ thumpin’ rock-steady translation of the physical state. This is rich stuff. And they don’t stop. Closer follows along almost seamlessly with more of their emotional tones. Money Shot which I first heard by itself in a compilation now sounds raw besides these two. Hyperactive, anyway. The closing track, Ham Sandwich and ESPN tries to capture male post-coital tristesse but fails, I think. <s>   [Two Spectrum is Green tracks follow, courtesy of – I think. The Key is pretty basic house at the outset and sets a pretty bouncy energy up for the vocal that gets dropped in … energy keeps rising and sweeps you along. L.B.E. closes out the side, with a strange filter on the sound and a latin-influenced samba engine driving the upper register. Go figure.]


A total surprise to me, and quite a pleasant one, was the compilation entitled MetroBreaks99: Toronto Drum’n’Bass. Kinder Atom leads off with "MMMM….." which starts off low on the horizon and builds to an easy atmospheric stylee featuring rolling drum’n’breaks, and closing with a soaring vocal track. User friendly. Then J. Haynes offers Newmelt. Very low-key, it rattles along with not much more than its beat … kinda like a hapless street entertainer, it eventually wanders off out on the experimental tip…. Tucked comfortably within the downtempo beat bracket, Freedom’s Pineangel comes with everything: the vocal, the insistent bassline, the tonal filigree that speaks of intelligent effecting…this is one mad piece, I’ll tell ya’. Then they drop in a Latin jazz number that I really just don’t get … it’s not unpleasant, but I don’t get it. It’s On comes with something unique: tablas dropping the beats, and sitars droning and becoming trumpets, all on top of a really great energy – this track is hot! A bit on the harsher, Ed Rush & Optical tip is Tuesday by Tigger. I gotta be in a special mood to want to hear much of this style of DnB, but if I was in the mood, I would listen to these guys: they’re suitably lean and muscular with this shit. Next one’s muscular also, and very focused -- Love by Transformantra is an interesting track, never falling into the clichés its format would lead you to predict.  Visionary's Rising also has a mismatched bassline and synth layer that keeps the track from becoming totally predictable … tho’ the bass does little to prove itself, the track manages to transcend some of the lesser moments. David Whalen's Elastic Bass didn't really impress me.  The set closes out with Hornet by Don Renks which has a blaring TV quality intro and then some busy DnB breaks. Next! [Actually, there is a "next" which is non-emusic: Jhno performing the oddly-named: K2ckbk. I guess this is experimental ambient. Parts of it are quite appealing – it’s a track that does interesting things throughout its duration, but I can’t imagine listening to it as often or as avidly as a Kruder & Dorfmeister joint.]


Coldcut’s Autumn Leaves (Irresistable Force Mix Trip 2) is one of those joints that if you own it, you must use it in a mix. It’s just a classic set-ender. Actually, this Waveform Records compilation, Two A.D., starts out with a classic ambient track from The Starseeds, Behind the Sun (Deep Ambient Mix), it ramps up from a slow intro and develops into something along the familiar lines of Banco de Gaia or FSOL. Then comes that essential Coldcut track I just mentioned, followed by Sounds from the Ground with Triangle. This, too, in a way seems suggestive of something you might hear on a Banco disque … they dig in to deliver a ten-minute package, part tribal, part celestial, this one also suggests William Orbit. Groove Corporation’s A Voyage on the Marie Celeste jumps off with a really compelling beat and saucy vocals that help make it an important track. Following is one of the few instances where I’ve gotten a download that included stuff I’ve purchased and mixed with in the past – here’s A Positive Life and their Pleidean Communication. This sounds a bit cheesy by today’s standards. Biosphere’s Baby Interphase reminds me of some of the early electro-ambient I've bought. It’s got a dialog thing in it I would tire of hearing pretty quick. In similar style, but without the irritating parts, is the aptly-named Tortoise from Higher Intelligence Agency. Tending toward the experimental tip, this takes the all-music, stripped-down and deliberate approach. Not bad, in its class. Sunken Garden is whispered by Human Mesh Dance, who seem happy to proceed at a stately pace themselves. Super-real Late Night sounds from Insanity Sect send the set heading toward the finish … this is a slow-down track to the power of 10. A Positive Life gets the final slot and contributes Aquasonic to end the set. So far, nothing from them I haven’t already heard of; they apparently had just the one album out. Aquasonic was on it, but it didn’t have the appeal to stick in my mind (much less be used in a mix.) The song remains the same.


Turning once again to the Glasgow Underground series, Slow Burning fires up some house tracks for consideration. The set opens with Blaze Theme Track courtesy of the Black Rascals. It’s a basic house beat and not unappealing, but so crucial as to make it a regular in the crate (the mp3 crate?) More moving is the Deep Dish Mix of The Color of My Skin by Swing 52. Message in the lyrics and emotion in the delivery lift this above it’s basic house dimensions, and they take their time developing the song: a generous 10+ minutes saturates you with this mix. Similarly, the Attaboy Vocal Mix of Music and Wine by Blue Six takes plenty of room to stretch out; for some reason, though, I’m not crazy about the lyrics, which that means I won’t hear this track much in the future. A pity, since it has a pretty sweet instrumental base. As for Dubtribe’s We Used to Dance (Carl’s Up All Night Mix), this is a cool tune for the quality of the narrative, but it’s a pretty specialized track … demonstrates well the issue about not wanting to repeatedly hear a strong narrative …. On to Don’t Stop by Space Jam, which is in fact a spacey jam, just a floating number that carries you with it. The next number is Let Me Love You (Muzique Tropique’s In Love Remix) by Jii Hoo and it pumps. Nothing much in the way of clever instrumentation, but it definitely has the beat, and what sounds like a Curtis Mayfield vocal (but who is it, really?) This is sweet, I’m impressed….. Now, same remixer (Muzique Tropique) on the next joint, but very different appeal: 7 Nites, 7 Days (Love the Bassmix) by Jori Hulkkonen has a nice lilting beat, but none of the emotional grit of the previous track, although the blues vocal is a fresh note. For another note entirely, check out UBQ Project’s When I Fell N Love, which starts out with a Donna Summerish vibe but quickly kicks into a nicely hooked chorus that’s completely captivating. You’ll like it, I swear: it’s short and sweet with nice phat tones. The final track of this set is Get Up by Deep Sensation and we’re back in the Donna Summer era, if not the sound. Not an exciting track by any means. Tacked on at the end is one of the Larry Heard tracks, The Other Side, from the small collection available on I tried hard to like this "father of house" set, but didn’t hear much that I could relate to. This particular track has a deep house vocal and stripped down instrumentation, and is one of the few that doesn’t rely on effecting the tones into cheesiness.


And that is a look at another 15 of the CDs I’ve scored from my subscription. There are worse ways to spend $15 a month – I know, I’ve done worse.

See the previous 15 reviews here.

See the next 15 reviews here.