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Tons Of Friends Lewis G. Parker , March 11th, 2010 04:22

Crookers are the two likeable Italians best known for their remix of Kid Cudi's 'Day n Nite,' the ubiquitous single which united the nation a couple of summers ago. It was partly a dazzling rejuvenation of hip-hop production, but also the default theme tune for people who spend a lot of money on polyphonic ringtones. It's an albatross Crookers haven't tried as hard to banish as they may have you believe. They have said that it vastly distorts their growing and varied body of work, and puts them dangerously close to becoming synonymous with that one track and nothing else. But without the massive success of 'Day 'n' Nite', they may have struggled to get many of the album's 27 guest contributors to return their calls. Which would have been a blessing in disguise, since although it makes an impressive social network, Crookers' list of contributors would be much better for the absence of the marquee names like Kelis and whose performances sound at best phoned-in and at worse like bad commercial R'n'B.

In terms of production, the house-by-numbers of 'Jump Up,' and the sleazy 'Natural Born Hustler' (feat. Pitbull), almost make it right for them to have 'Day n Nite' etched onto their gravestones and branded on their foreheads. But despite quite a few misses, a lot of the 20 tracks here have an innovative and textured production which spans hip-hop, afrobeat, techno, house, dubstep, and even takes a fair stab at blues on a collaboration with Tim Burgess.

Surprisingly, while their passion for techno and house is unquestionable, hip-hop and downbeat electronics are where they have found their real niche. 'Park The Truck' (feat. Spank Rock) jars by rubbing a cutesy hip-hop nursery rhyme against a production as bleak as Burial's darkest moments. With its sneezing keyboards, 'Cooler Couleur' (feat. Yelle) follows on from Daft Punk's production of Sebastien Tellier's Sexuality. And 'Hip Hop Changed' (feat. Rye Rye) takes a leaf from Bay Area pioneer AmpLive in projecting hip hop further into the future with spaced out synths. When the tunes are as good as these, you can see why they're keen to surpass that Kid Cudi remix.

At twenty tracks, this is going to be a tricky repast for the more transient of Crookers' Cudi-won fanbase to digest. But delete the dross and you're left with around 10 thoughtful and progressive pieces of electronic music which borrow from and advance a multitude of genres. If only they'd left the address book at home and not been tempted to cater for the lowest common denominator, they would have shed that albatross once and for all.