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Toronto Sun

Prodigy tries sex in space

Prodigy fans take note: Don't bother checking the record shops for Liam Howlett's next set of electro beats. You'll have better luck finding them in the adult section of your favourite video store.

Howlett, musical braintrust behind the hit U.K. techno outfit, recently teamed up with Massive Attack member 3-D to score scenes from an upcoming U.S. sci-fi porn flick called The Uranus Experiment -- Part Two.

"The film involves the first zero-gravity sex," Howlett enthuses over the phone last week from his London studio, the Dirtchamber. "They've spent loads of money on it and chartered these planes to fly on the edge of space and go into a controlled free-fall. Then they filmed zero-gravity sex. We get to do a track for it!"

Okay, so porn's first interstellar money-shot not withstanding, what's a nice, clean-cut mixmaster like Howlett doing dabbling in "this crazy film?"

"The producer approached me and Rob (3-D) 'cause he knew we were porn fans," Howlett says. "It's a bit of a laugh more than anything else, but because it's so original, I wanted to be a part of it.

"I'm not usually a fan of music on porno. Turn the volume down and get to it, I say. But when I saw this film, it almost had a certain class about it. When you say 'porno,' the first thing you think of is sleazy guitar and wah-wah pedal. This isn't like that at all. Floating around in space requires some different music. I've done something simple, but it will make a good first track for our album later. "

The Uranus Experiment hits finer video store shelves in June.

Follow-up album

Howlett, meanwhile, is currently toiling away in the Dirtchamber preparing for a long-awaited follow-up to Prodigy's 1997 album The Fat Of The Land, which spawned the group's U.S. breakthrough hit Firestarter.

His label, XL/Beggar Banquet, also recently released The Dirtchamber Sessions Volume One, Howlett's DJ remix album featuring cut-ups, samples and, in a few cases, entire tracks from albums that inspired him on his 15-year journey from pre-teen hip-hop turntablist to techno composer.

Sampled "guests" range from contemporaries like the Chemical Brothers, Cold Cut and Fatboy Slim to guitar-driven passages by The Charlatans and The Sex Pistols.

The project began as a "load of fun," a breather after two years of steady touring.

"I used to put tapes together for my friends and see if I could impress them with some tight cutting and scratching or edits," he says. "I wanted this to come across like it was held together with sticky tape. I didn't want it to come across as one of these dance mix albums. Without the knowledge of the roots of hip-hop, I wouldn't be doing Prodigy. "

Howlett says the toughest thing about The Dirtchamber Sessions was clearing the samples. In many cases, his hands were tied by copyright laws and he had to delete sections of the original album.

Still, he sought out blessings from the original artists himself over the phone, including a nod from the famously prickly John Lydon, a.k.a. Johnny Rotten.

"If John Lydon did tell me to f--- off, at least I'd heard it from him and not some suit behind a desk," Howlett says.

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