Carl Cox is one of the most respected names in dance music and one of the major reasons that the genre took off in the '90s. Cox is not only one of the nicest guys in the industry but also one of its hardest-working and most talented artists. He's been on the scene since the peak of late-'80s acid house and helped pave the way for the current state of house music. More than those of any other DJ, Cox's mix CDs (including the popular F.A.C.T. series) were looked at as the definitive guide to what's hot in underground dance music. He has also released two artist albums: 1996's At the End of the Cliché (Worldwide Ultimatum) and 1999's Phuture 2000 (Ultimatum). But in recent years, the U.S. hasn't heard that much from Cox. Nevertheless, while a new breed of DJs started gaining momentum on American soil, Cox was patiently planning his return to the red, white and blue. This reappearance features a national bus tour and a highly anticipated new CD, Second Sign (Koch), due in early 2006.
However, Cox's new artist album is really not a “Carl Cox artist album,” per se. With collaborators including Roni Size, Norman Cook, Kevin Saunderson and Josh Wink, Second Sign is more like a dance-music all-star album. The sound isn't trademark Carl Cox techno or house, either. Instead, with a production setup centered around Digidesign Pro Tools and Ableton Live, Cox and his pals have created a treat that traverses through the sounds of breakbeat, house, soul, drum 'n' bass, Latin, techno and even punk. Vocal contributions should also be familiar, with Saffron (ex-Republica) and Onallee (ex-Reprazent) climbing onboard.
On album highlight “Got What You Paid For” (a mixture of drum 'n' bass and punk rock), Saffron and Cradle of Filth guitarist Paul Allender team up for one of the album's most unexpected moments. “Saffron really sounds like Siouxsie Sioux,” Cox says. “It just sounds incredible between what he's laid down and what she's delivered — it's a really powerful thing. Nobody's done a drum 'n' bass track with power vocals of this nature and guitar. It's shocked everyone who's heard it, because they can't believe what I've done.”
The album, combined with a two-month-long bus tour of North America, will do much to bring back the level of popularity that Cox once held in this country. The superstar DJ also plans to bring a live element to the road in 2006 that will include versions of “Got What You Paid For” (with Saffron live on vocals) and “That's the Bass” (a collaboration with Norman Cook featuring a live drummer). Cox broke through to America once before, and with this album project, he can bank on a repeat.