THE AMERICAN WORK ethic is so insidiously pervasive that its demands even seep into our supposed "leisure" time. Take last year's Mixed Emotional Features (Palm), a dark glimpse into the world of Philadelphia's Adam Dorn (a.k.a. Mocean Worker): deep thinker, serious musician, hard worker. The resulting sounds alternated between drum 'n' bass scored for a heist flick and smoky sweet jazz numbers, each one of them a testament to education and good old-fashioned studio know-how. And yet these taut song structures seemed the sonic equivalent of a 60-hour workweek fueled by an endless drive for security, quantifiable success, and cool gadgets.
Now Dorn has seen the light, stepping out of the DJ/producer rat race. And he's ready to take the rest of the country along with him. Aural & Hearty finds him displaying an entirely different ethic. On exhibit here is a new Adam Dorn: playboy, dance-floor commissar, and swinging host, a personality introduced with flair by "Hey Baby," the Big Beat equivalent of the wink and the thumb-and-forefinger gun. The results are shrink-wrapped within a brighter, loungier packaging that makes "Mmm mmm, good" faces and declares, "I love my Mocean Worker." Instead of sticking to jazz and drum 'n' bass, Dorn plays dance-music Twister and high-fives other schools of techno at a hip-shaking house party.
In the joints that follow "Hey Baby," Dorn makes sure not to miss one friend. "Astroglide" jets by like Iron Chefs working a Soul Train dance line. "Velvet Black Sky" slides around the floor, serving up bossa nova free of the beret-wearing pensiveness of Towa Tei's nouveau-beatnik photo shoots. "Cha Cha Cha" and "Waiting for Verdeux" are like twins at the party, digging the same solid electro groove from separate rooms. Though Dorn brings caffeinated vigor to his dance-floor roulette, he maintains a relaxed focus throughout, demonstrating that all work and no play makes DJ stand for "dull jerk."
Check out this week's featured ad for Entertainment