James Lavelle w/DJs Eva & BPM
Sat July 24, Chop Suey, 9 pm, $12 adv.

You have to envy James Lavelle--and pity him. He achieved everything he ever wanted to do in music by the time he was 25: built the Mo' Wax Records empire into a paragon of cool, spent studio time recording with his favorite artists under the UNKLE moniker, and hobnobbed with graffiti legend Futura 2000 and coaxed him to create cover art for his label. Then he lost most of it through some record-biz bull. His consolation: He now travels the world spinning records.

The British producer/DJ/mogul started playing sound systems when he was 14, and at 16, he opened a club in Oxford called Mo' Wax Please. Three years later, in 1992, Lavelle launched the Mo' Wax label, which collectors salivate over, as its releases house delectable slabs of abstract funk science in striking artwork.

But Lavelle's life nosedived in the mid-'90s when he sold Mo' Wax to a major label that wanted him to churn out commercial releases. He eventually regained the Mo' Wax name, but Island still holds the back catalog.

He rebounded into the welcoming arms of the reputable Global Underground imprint, becoming the series' first non-progressive-house DJ. On disc one of his latest mix, Global Underground: Romania #026, Lavelle bravely (or foolishly) leans heavily on the rock. (Along with many songs from UNKLE's bloated, ballad-heavy Never, Never, Land, Lavelle includes UNKLE remixes of Queens of the Stone Age, South, M83, and DJ Shadow tracks.) Disc two features yet more UNKLE and Meat Katie cuts, but it honors the booty's imperatives with dark, tunneling tracks by Pepe Bradock, Peace Division, and Ultima.

Romania falls short of Lavelle's 2002 GU double disc, Barcelona #023, which at least adheres to the notion that funkiness and maintaining rhythmic momentum are good things. As solid as they are, productions from Daft Punk's Thomas Bangalter, Leftfield, Layo & Bushwacka!, FC Kahuna, and Uberzone aren't exactly breaking boundaries. Lavelle must have better platters in his stash that he's not sharing with us, as his current sets seem like those of a compromiser rather than of someone who remixed Boredoms.

segal@thestranger.com

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