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Juno Reactor - Labyrinth

 

Universal Music Japan 2004

 

1 - Conquistador 1 (6:02)

2 - Conquistador 2 (5:06)

3 - Giant (4:00)

4 - War Dogs (5:00)

5 - Mona Lisa Overdrive (4:45)

6 - Zwara (6:35)

7 - Mutant Message (6:10)

8 - Angels And Men (7:07)

9 - Navras (9:06)

 

Occasionally living in Japan has some great benefits and being able to buy the new Juno Reactor album almost a full month before it is released in the rest of the world is one of them. Its been four years since the last full Juno Reactor album and finally fans can rejoice that the wait is over. Its no real secret that one of the reasons for the delay of this album was that Juno master mind, Ben Watkins, had been pulled away from work on this album to do some significant work on the music for the last two Matrix movies. The influences of working on these films definitely shows through on the album as this album is more spacious and epic than anything previous. This album also has probably uses the most amount of real instruments, orchestra elements and various vocals to date. However fans of Juno's brand of tribal, electronic music should not worry, as this album is drenched in tribal percussion and there isn't a full on bassline or minimal track to be found. In fact, if you loved Bible Of Dreams you are in luck as this album reminds me of that album , except extremely beefed up.

 

So how does it sound? I was personally worried since the last three Juno Reactor albums have been most excellent, that there was simply no way the next album to compare. I went in with low expectations and am happy to report I was basically proven wrong on almost every point.

 

Conquistador (I'm counting 1 and 2 together since there are essentially the same track) opens up the album in what I feel just might be Juno Reactor's best track to date. Part 1 starts use off with slow pads and orchestral flyby's drift over a quiet percussion/melody line. Some lovely Spanish influence acoustic guitar lines drift in and out at first and slowly establish the mode of the track. Some ethereal female vocals and choir elements drift in and out adding to the atmosphere. Some percussion starts to build into the shift into part 2 which drops us into full blown Juno Reactor "trance" mode. The percussion takes over and Mabi Thobejane comes in making it feel like this track is a secret missing gem from the Bible of Dreams session (although it might even be better than most of that album). Descriptions are difficult, but I actually caught myself think "this might be as good as some Shpongle stuff" so it must be good.

 

Juno Reactor has always been and act to play add anything and everything to their sound and Giant is the "what the?" track of the album, being basically a Drum and Bass track played with real drums and some nasty bass that would make DnB purists proud. I like this track, but I feel it is also the weak point of the album simply because the recording of the drums isn't up to par with the rest of the album, or even the track. Coming from an audio background I understand just how hard drums are to record well, but the fact remains that the drums are a hair flat. Else wise it is a nice nasty track that probably would sound great if the rest of the album wasn't so well recorded.

 

War Dogs is next and again, there is a small issue with the recording of the drums. They aren't as much of an issue as in Giant, but they still are a little flat. That said, its a small complaint here and the ethnic, somewhat Indian sounding breakdowns and vocals I love. There is some more Spanish guitar and even some crunchy guitar bits in the background (although by no means are we talking heavy metal here).

 

Next up is Mona Lisa Overdrive, famous from the car chase seen in Matrix Reloaded. For some reason I was never super impressed with the track in the movie itself, however being able to hear it here, without the movie and a million sound effects getting in the way I can see that this is actually a good track. Again, loads of percussion, loads of orchestral stuff. Its epic and I like it.

 

Next is Zwara, which was released as a single several month back and thus probably familiar to many fans so not much comment is needed here. Enough to say that it fits the vibe of the album perfectly. Mutant Message starts off as a moody down tempo number. Again, the usually elements are here (percussion, strings, etc) which focuses on some quiet, heavily echoed piano lines before getting thick and dirty, breaking down and getting dirty again to close it off.

 

Together with Conquistador 1 & 2, Angels and Men makes for the highlight of the album. Similar in vibe to the opening o the album, this slow spacious number is all about atmosphere, with a simple percussion line soaked in reverb providing the base for some more angelic female vocals, a droning clean arppegiated guitar line and various flyby lines and elements. This is down tempo music at its best.

 

Narvas closes of the album and should be familiar to anyone who has Matrix Revolutions as the closing track during the credits. Its huge, its epic and it closes the album since there is nothing that you could really follow it up with. Again, it sounds like some lost Bible of Dreams track on steroids and since this listener considers Bible of Dreams among the best albums ever, this is a good thing.

 

The end result - Despite some minor drum recording issues with Giant and War Dogs, this is an excellent album. While fans of straight up "club" psy-trance might not get too into Juno Reactor, people who are simply fans of good music should find a lot to like here. Good stuff!!!!

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WOW! What an amazing album, been listening to this for practically two days in a row now. This is easily _the_ release of last few years for me. Unlike some other artists these days, JR doesn't desperately try to change and be "different", instead they keep on mastering their skills and doing what they're best at! The result sounds like them, which is a great thing.

 

This album has more raw energy than the rest of the year's releases combined. :) With Beyond the Infinite, this is the best album from Juno so far, imo.

 

-edit- Oh and what an amazing opening Conquistador! :D

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Guest djnemo

As I stated in 2 other threads already I would buy this album regardles if I like it or not. I also stated that I wassnt to impressed by the latest albums of Juno Reactor. Well, I went to get this album without listening to it. I came home, Turned my Genelec's to the top and put the cd into the player.... since then its taken me some time to even think! DAMN THIS IS GOOD STUFF!

 

I cant believe how good the production is on this album, the sounds, so Juno Reactor, a sound that is very special for this group. Eventhough they have been using this style to sequence, to make the sounds, they have made it very clear that they can bring out a very fresh sound sounding like they always have done.

 

Very groovey, very trancey, very tribal, very very very very good!

 

I simply love it!

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Juno's just getting further and further from the "mainstream psytrance" sound... this sounds more like world-music blended with movie sountrack music with an extra layer of spanish influences (Juno takes the ideas in Pistolero and develops them in a much more serious note throughout the album IMO). Oh and it also has a lot of rockish influences as well... Creativity-wise I'd say that this is on par with Shpongle : these guys just take influences from all over the world (and music scene) and put them in a huge melting pot giving us a pleasurable experience.

 

Mutant Message is my fave track, it's in the slow and heavy industrial style of the late 80s... I just love it when artists manage to put this huge power inside their tracks without going crazy with the BPMs! Anyone into industrial will know what I'm talking about. Eat your heart out Front 242 ;)

 

War Dogs reminded me a lot of God is God which is one of my fave Juno tracks so I love this one as well :)

 

oh and Conquistador pt 2 sounds more like a remix of Conga Fury to my ears...

 

also big thumbs up to Juno for giving us his interpretation of drum & bass with Giant Actually a little background check on Juno's history reveals that he made a project in the late 80s called Urban Jungle Project in which he was one of the precursors' of what was later to become D&B so I guess this is his chance to make a comeback and show the scene that there's still much unexplored space to be uncovered just like with the trance scene...

 

other than that.... well there are just too many vocals for my tastes...

 

[EDIT] Well after repeated listenings that Angels and Men track started to work VERY well!!! At first i didn't like the "angelic" voice singing but after some more listens it just seems to fit in perfectly, the whole track seems to tell a story it has become my absolute top chill-out track at the moment!! Finally something to match Lu Ci-ana :)

 

Conclusion yes this is different and creativity-wise it deserves 11/10... but does it make it good? Well, I guess that's a matter of personal taste... I'm sure that Juno fans will love it... however I've never really been a huge Juno fan... so for me music-wise this is average. Sometimes there are so many vocals that I feel compelled to turn down the volume... Other times he makes some freakin great stuff! I won't rate this though, I think this is one of those "buy it and try it for yourself" albums

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Stunning album ! It is even more progressed style than before and whole album sounds like you're inside the labyrinth with sounds and voices all around you. I like all songs but my favourite ones are : CONQUISTADOR PT.1, WAR DOGS, MONA LISA, MUTANT MESSAGE ( amazing ambient pices done with Delta ), ANGELS AND MEN, NAVRAS...Juno simply never dissapoint...10/10

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Guest djnemo

also big thumbs up to Juno for giving us his interpretation of drum & bass with Giant Actually a little background check on Juno's history reveals that he made a project in the late 80s called Urban Jungle Project in which he was one of the precursors' of what was later to become D&B so I guess this is his chance to make a comeback and show the scene that there's still much unexplored space to be uncovered just like with the trance scene...

and did you hear the production they made of the porn star Traci Lords in 1995? Fantastic as well :)

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Guest Le Lotus Bleu

Juno Reactor - Labyrinth (Metropolis Records)

 

After 4 years of silence (except a best of), here is the new Ben Watkin’s opus & his variable geometric Labyrinth at producing or as instrumentist :

Nick Burton (producing), Eduardo Niebla (flamenco guitar), Mabi Thobejane (percussions),Don Davis (orchestration),Calina de la Mare (Violin),Xavier Morel (prod & sonic supplier),Deepak Ram(Flute), Taz Alexander-Susan Hendricks et Diane Charlemagne (chant), Youth et Greg Hunter (bass) for the principal or most well known.

 

You can expect on this new album the 2 faces of Juno Reactor ;from one hand smashing & boosted tribal dancefloor tunes, on the other hand more intimist, melodic indeed climatic.

 

1- Conquistador 1

2- Conquistador 2

 

Both track, what a surprise, are connected & mixed without break, indeed let’s say that part 1 is the intro of part 2 (the core dancefloor).

 

So the 1st one is very calm, in addition of the vibraphone, the typical vilins sounds from juno are immediatly recognizable embellished of some notes escaped from Eduardo Niebla’s flamenco guitar (but no poco loco melody here like did Steve Stevens in Pistolero). On the end, a semblance of rythmic makes irruption, sign of a forthcoming throbbing & nervous bass in the neighbourhood…

 

That’s when you’re propulsated in the 2nd part, you’ll recognize this deep& naughty african voice already heard in Badimo for example (but the voice is present all along here), consequently the tune’s ambience reminds another Juno’s tribal stuff : Conga Fury . Afterwards, the flamenco guitar of the 1st part comes back.

 

3- Giant

The rythmic is different here from the dominant tribal one on the album as it’s more breakbeat oriented., that’s also the 1st which focuses on a woman voice (Diane Champagne). An assemblage that seems to be appreciated by Ben Watkins as it will be reedited several times on the album, nevertheless the Diane Champagne’s performance is closest to an excercise in vocalization than real chant but pushed with the women backing vocals it results a nice Mermaid effect.

 

4- War Dogs

And now comes the most orientalish tune but in my mind much more well performed than was God Is God. It bursts in with an alternance of violins & electric guitar riffs on what a flamenco guitar & ney (which must be this typical instrument with an oriental sound) will be added.

 

5- Mona Lisa Overdrive

It’s another tune rich in woman vocalizes (Taz Alexander this time, accompagnied by some chorus), rich also in gallopping & backfiring melodies played respectively by a violin & some blunderbuss (brass). A title soon repayed for its reinvigorate & anti-flu effects.

 

6- Zwara

 

Let’s notice the bass is performed by Greg Hunter (Kiling Joke) & that Susan Hendricks is responsible of the incantations & vocalizes. Furthermore many little nervous african male crys & some percussions confer the track a warrior and/or psychopath ambience, the kind of perfect soundtrack dedicated to lazergame partys.

 

7- Mutant Message

 

Ok now, how about something more chilly, sweet & subtle in this album ?

No worry, it’s time with some plaintive leads & some quaver in one’s voice, a piano melody little echo affected for a guaranteed mysterious & misty ambience. Some very sharpy violins comes slyly piercing your eardrum, ambience gloomy & cold a la Shining.

 

8-Angels And Men

Once again, some woman vocalizes with Taz Alexander,even though to be honest this time she sings a little bit. Otherwise this is the chill tune of this miscellany, in the same spirit as Song For The Ancestors in Shango, with a lead that couln’t have been more melancholy.

 

9- Navras

For conclude before a new album (that everybody hope for in a lapse of time infererior to 4 years this time), you got a huge orchestration, very classical music oriented (in a Wagnerian style,so very punchy ), during this intro but later on coppled with a the orchestra & the Hollywood Film Choral. Indian ambience too with men’s chants & Deepak Ram (the one involved in Solaris from Shango) playing excited indian flute, un new tutti frutti mix which seems at first improbable but at final takes shape, thanks to the magic wand of Ben Watkins well helped of his numerous guests performers. Besides this fact can be checked all along Labyrith.

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NB: I’m reviewing the Metropolis Records version of this album – but as it identical with the Universal Music Japan version, I’ll post in this thread…This album is already available in Japan, and will be available in the rest of the on October 26th 2004…---

 

Juno Reactor - Labyrinth

 

Posted Image

 

Artist: Juno Reactor

Title: Labyrinth

Format: CD (jewel case)

Label: Metropolis Records (USA)

Cat. #: MET 346

Distribution: Metropolis Distribution

Date: 29 September 2004 (Universal Music/Japan) 26 October 2004 (worldwide)

 

Track listing:

 

01. 06’02” Conquistador I

02. 05’06” Conquistador II

03. 04’00” Giant

04. 05’00” War Dogs

05. 04’45” Mona Lisa Overdrive

06. 06’35” Zwara

07. 06’10” Mutant Message

08. 07’07” Angels and Men

09. 09’06” Navras

 

Review:

 

Mors stupebit et natura cum resurget creatura huic ergo parce deus

 

Only a true musical master would dare putting up big fat renditions from the Catholic Requiem in the booklet of a new album… And especially when it translates into: ‘Death and nature shall stand amazed when creation rises. Spare them, O God’ … Risky, pretentious business - but that’s exactly what Ben Watkins pulls through off this, the 6th studio album… And yes, he can pull it off!

 

Though it’s been 4 years since the release of Shango, we’ve been fortunate enough to have plenty of Juno Reactor material released in the waiting time: The was the excellent Hotaka single, the techno-influenced remix EP Masters of the Universe, the retrospective ‘best of’ album: Odessey, the tribal Zwara EP and of course the impressive tracks on the Matrix Reloaded, Matrix Revolutions and The Animatrix OSTs… But nevertheless, hoards of people have been waiting for this album – and finally it’s out…

 

Let me take you thru the tracks…

 

#01: The first part of Conquistador is a pretty laid back, chilled piece of music and works as a long intro to Conquistador II… The track itself revolves around beautiful, organic, downbeat pieces: Acoustic Mexican guitar played by Eduardo Niebla – soothing vocals by Taz Alexander – and for the second part of the track a mixed selection of percussion by Greg Ellis and Nick Burton… They steadily increase the tempo, building and building – it’s simply brilliant - and towards the ‘end’ you can cut through the tension with a knife… And then, BAM!

 

#02: That long build-up is finally rewarded as we mix seamlessly into Conquistador II which immediately unleashes the unmistakable full-power Juno Reactor sound… A couple more guys are added on percussion: Risenga Makondo and Mabi Thobejane… So it’s 4 guys on percussion now, kicking the shit of those drums, congas, tablas, steel drums and whatnots… Also Niebla returns with his guitar and we get some ethno-tribal chants similar to those found on Shango… Actually this is just as good as Shango was – or Bible Of Dreams for that matter… The production by Watkins & Burton is flawless, and I cannot help myself from being totally sucked in by this track… It’s perfect!

 

#03: “Inside… inside… inside!” … Watkins is now joined by Victor Indrizzo on live drums and Diane Charlemagne on vocals… This track is more experimental, and has already been dubbed the ‘drum n bass track’ by JR fans… Focus revolved around Ms. Charlemagne’s voice in different pitch levels and the brutal, cut-up live drums… It’s definitely different from the norm, but seen in a Juno Reactor perspective, it’s just another border-crossing experiment… And not a bad one either… Through my first listens, I had reservations with this track, but it has slowly grown on me… Nice!

 

#04: War Dogs is more ‘standard’ Juno Reactor… By that I mean, big fat orchestral sounds, huge percussion arrangements and ethno vocals – something along the lines of the tracks on the Matrix soundtracks…Niebla is back on acoustic guitars and some dude called Budgie is on drums – and he also co-produced the track with Watkins… This tune has a ‘Spanish-hacienda-lazy-afternoon-siesta-feel’ and I like that – it’s good, but too short!

 

#05: Alright, this is the track from the highway chase sequence in Matrix Reloaded, and what an absolutely fucking brilliant track this is… It’s fast paced, intense world beat party music with emphasis on the brilliant percussion and the female vocals by Taz Alexander… Produced in co-operation with Don Davies… I dig this track – good enough for a Zion rave, I’m sure…

 

#06: “Zwara... Zwara... Zwara..!.” This is the Sleepwalker track! Released in Japan in 2003 as a single only – again, this is typical JR style… A massive sound-spectre consisting of multilayered tribal percussion, ethnic vocals (even screaming at times) and big orchestral background pads… And of course the sweet taiko-drum action performed by Gocoo and Greg Hunter on bass… A brilliant combination, creating a brilliant track!

 

#07: Mutant Message starts of with a computerized voice speaking in German, then some deep, polished bassline played brilliantly by the master himself: Youth … And of course the very simple, yet astonishing piano-line… Added later on are much more percussion and plush effects from around the world – great stuff indeed… The pace in this track isn’t exactly slow, just slower than its predecessors… I really like the sharp contrast outlined between Youth’s bass and the piano… Amazing!

 

#08: “Why are you so afraid of the face of God?” That’s the question Taz pops with her beautiful voice on this chilled track… This is ambient – Juno Reactor style with Thobejane percussion and sonic forager by Morel… And Watkins & Friends are skilled in more than just the art of upbeat world beats – this is a sweet, sweet down tempo tune… Very organic, harmonic and simply amazing!

 

#09: Last track is Navras which was also featured in Matrix Reloaded during the credits… It’s big and pompous… Carmina-Burana-like choral singing by various singers, single vocal by Azam Ali, percussion by Thobejane & Greg Ellis, Raja Ram-like flute by Deepak Ram and big orchestral arrangements by Don Davies… What a cool atmosphere created here – and it works even without the fancy Hollywood FX… It’s Juno at large - how can you go wrong? This is simply amazing…

 

Holy phuck – what a ride… My expectations for this album were sky high, and I’m glad to say that they were met – even excelled. This is a really, really good album – we’ve come to expect a masterpiece every time that Watkins & Co. grace us with a release, and thankfully they do not let us down here…

 

This album can be characterized by its versatile and flawless production and sound – and by the constant evolution, experimentation and crossing of musical boundaries. It’s just damn good music. Period.

 

If you liked Bible of Dreams and Shango, you will like this… If you liked the Hotoka and Zwara singles, you will like this… If you liked the Juno Reactor music from the Matrix movies, you will like this… If you like high-quality, genre-crossing dance music, you’ll like this… To put it short – you’ll like this! Trust me! Highly recommended!

 

Favourites: 1(!), 2(!!!), 5, 6(!), 7(!!), 8, 9(!)

 

DeathPosture

Posted Image

 

External links:

Juno Reactor: http://www.reactorleak.com

Metropolis Records: http://www.metropolis-records.com

Metropolis Records Mail Order: http://www.industrial-music.com/product.php?prodnum=MET+346

GUP Shop: http://ns0.boing.net/gup.net.au/shop/produ...products_id=988

---

Should be available @ Psyshop, Saiko Sounds, Chaos and more online shops shortly…

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Well, it certainly has its moments. But it's less detailed and subtle than some previous work. The synthsounds are not really varied in sound character. Basslines a bit standard. Sometimes it gets a bit too bombastic for me.

Conquistador I+II, Angels and Men are great. The Mona Lisa remix is a waste, the original is just longer and better.

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  • 1 month later...

i love juno's style, so i knew i'd like this before i even picked it up. only question was, how would it compare to their previous albums.

 

i will say this, it is not as varied as Shango, which was absolutely all over the place (in a good way!). here, almost all the tracks employ the same main elements of tribal drumming, trance beats, ethnic vocals, and guitar.

 

the two chill-ish tracks are gonna take some time to grow on me, and having only listened to this all the way through once, i can't make a proper judgment yet.

 

i did not like Giant so much, as it uses a nagging growly synth sound that typifies darkstep drum & bass, which seemed cliche and unnecessary.

 

that, and the drumming is very quiet compared to other elements; on a few tracks they seemed almost drowned out against the heavy metal guitar.

 

but these are minor nitpicks! tracks like conquistador p2, zwara, and navras are a culmination and evolution of everything juno reactor's ever done. in my mind, easily one of the best trance releases of 2004.

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  • 3 weeks later...
  • 1 month later...

Well, it certainly has its moments. But it's less detailed and subtle than some previous work. The synthsounds are not really varied in sound character. Basslines a bit standard. Sometimes it gets a bit too bombastic for me.

Conquistador I+II, Angels and Men are great. The Mona Lisa remix is a waste, the original is just longer and better.

200186[/snapback]

This album has really grown on me. I now think Giant is the only weak track.

Mutant Message is awesome...

Juno Reactor rocks!

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Very cool album. I can't decide whether it's good or great.

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This is one monster of an album and matches 'Bible of dreams' all the way. Sheer power. JR have a fully defined sound of their own that separates them the rest of the competition thanks to the live percussion. For me the outstanding track is 'Zwara'. Bit of a pain that it's only available in the UK on import? 9.5/10

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Ok, so this is the new album from the legend group, Juno Reactor.

After their last succesfull cd, Beyond The Infinite (psychotechno), Bible Of Dreams (everybody should have a copy), Shango (more africa-tribal sounds) what can we expect?

Juno Reactor are definately one of my favouritre bands in all kind of music. They are not only in psychedelic trance music and everybody knows it. I was anxius about their new album and finally it was out. Luckily I found, probably the last copy at Space Om.

 

So the first track Conquistador I, is an ambient track with female vocals and spanish guitar where the journey begins!

 

And suddenly the atmoshere changes. Conquistador II is here and the music takes off. The techno and tribal rhythms start. The male voice make it even spooky. It’s a bit dark but very Juno ‘s style.

 

The next track Giant with Diane Charlemagne (from Hyper Cookie Collective and Innercity Life with Godie) is what rock should be nowdays. Juno play all kind of music.

 

War Dogs begins very strong with powerful sounds and goes on.

 

Mona Lisa Overdive from Matrix. What a track. An unbelievable music journey. Juno Reactor play cinema music. Just listen to this track night at your car, through the national road.

 

Probably the best track of Labyrinth. Zwara. It’s ‘all the money’. Don’t use drugs. Just listen to this amazing, fantastic music. That’s why I love Juno Reactor.

 

Mutant Message is here. A dark ambinet track like Inscects from Shango. Only this could be next to Zwara

 

Angels and Men is a chill out track, a balland you could say. Juno Reactor are sensitive and make a puzzle.

 

And finaly Navras from Matrix again. Power vocals and strings make it diffirent. One of a kind.

 

So another fantastic album by Juno Reactor is here. If you want to listen to something different from the usual psycho artistrs, this is the answer. I wish I could watch them live in Greece. Whatever the ticket price whould be, I am there.

 

Great music and great production too. The best 2004 Electronic album.

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  • 1 month later...

I never was a fan of Juno reactor's music, but this album is IMPRESSIVE! Probably the most musical psytrance album i have heard! This is by far the best Juno reactor album, and the more mature also...

Fav tracks : Conquistador II, Zwara, i love these two tracks!!!! Navras is impressive too, it sounds like orchestral music at the end!

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Guest antic

@shaman of sound - have you ever heard of internet shops?

I'll bet other israeliens have, so I'm sure there's much more than 5 copies of this CD in Israel. LOL :D

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