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Jazz - Released April 5, 1999 | 4AD

Dif Juz were one of the most overlooked members of the early 4AD roster, but traces of the unit's beautiful instrumental passages have popped up decades after their dissolution -- in wildly varied bands like the Dirty Three and Piano Magic, just to name a couple examples. And, if this material had been originally issued in the mid-to-late '90s, it would have been labelled post-rock. Soundpool combines the Vibrating Air and Huremics EPs, tacking on "No Motion," their excellent contribution to the Lonely is an Eyesore compilation. This disc captures a band that was more deeply rhythmic than the one heard on 1985's Extractions album, as the thick basslines take center stage throughout. Those who find the dubscapes of Public Image Limited's Metal Box a bit too bloodcurdling might find solace in these pleasant, less abrasive songs. This 1999 compilation renders Out of the Trees obsolete. ~ Andy Kellman
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Jazz - Released July 1, 1985 | 4AD

What proved in the end to be the only full proper Dif Juz album was a gentle marvel, showing the quartet building on the strengths of its initial releases to create a gripping, involving instrumental masterpiece. While not on the same level of transcendence as, say, Talk Talk's Laughing Stock or the first Orang album, those who appreciate either those bands or that of the band's contemporaries the Durutti Column will find much to love here. As opposed to the delicate-yet-full bodied work of Dif Juz's earliest days, Extractions finds the group exploring more in the studio than before, with additions like Thomas' fine sax playing and varying percussion instruments and styles clearly marking out the group's work more than before. "Crosswinds," the lengthy, majestic opener, shows the band's increased abilities in spades, Thomas' own work on both brass and beat to the fore. Robin Guthrie's echo-laden production is perfectly suited for the work at play; it's no surprise that Thomas contributed horns and percussion to later Cocteau Twins work, nor that Elizabeth Fraser added vocals for "Love Insane." She takes the soft approach on this number, her gentle vocals mixing with Thomas' sax just so. Other fine numbers include "A Starting Point," its changing rhythms and rich wash of guitars a lovely extrapolation of the original, sparer Dif Juz sound, and the mysterious, buried chime pattern which leads off the fine "The Last Day." An unusual bonus appears at the end of the CD version of the album -- four tracks, two each from the band's first EPs, Huremics and Vibrating Air. The release of Soundpool supersedes the need for such extras, but they do make a useful addition for those without said disc; the Vibrating Air selections are slightly rerecorded and remixed with a little extra drama and drive. ~ Ned Raggett

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