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This debut full length release from Portland’s Ohmega Watts hits ya with uplifting vibe, upbeat production and smooth lyrical flow. The album features fun, bouncy numbers and tracks of pure beauty featuring guest MCs and female vocalists such as Tiffany Simpson on “Your Love.” Production style is lush yet raw at times taking influence from older funk-infused hip-hop yielding a contemporary that is both urban and sophisticated. Grooves would fit well alongside label-mate Greyboy or Tru-Thought’s Quantic who remixed “That Sound” as featured on a 12″ of the single. Notably, there are no lulls in this album’s feel-good dynamic energy – even downtempo reflections like “Mind Power” keep moving. Lyrical flow has been compared to Jurassic 5, production to that of Aim, but the style is distinctively Ohmega.
Bottom line: best hip-hop album of 2005 (all tracks clean)
Slick sounds that soothe from one smooth Philly cat and his crew… flows with nods to the Roots and hails to Tribe atop of downtempo grooves abound strung tight remind of label’s namesake. Trumpet + keys lend cool jazz feel a la Dig Planets throughout coupled with a pinch of disco de la Sol on “Jneireieireooo!!!!!” and sun infused samba jams (“Sun Walkers”) leaves your ears refreshsed and your love for smooth hip-hop well satisfied.
lang: 3, 6, 14
Electronic Tomfoolery targeted at White House hopeful while reminiscent of White Hole with a slightly more industrial sample palette, if not more quirky… perhaps with a shorter attention span as well? Not to suggest simplicity, however, subtlety lies with Satan – in the details of course! Instant anthem Upon Rock City (just add Bubblegum) leads way to seemingly childish name calling (strictly in song titledom alone as these tracks are all instrumental goodness, nay… sampled splendor!) as Books on Tape remind us that noise is political: sibblings attack killing machine slash surly ambassador Tom Delay calling you nasty – “Hands off my issues man!@#”
Here kitten kitten kitten kitten kitten surprise… (all tracks clean)
Downtempo from South Bay local Dextah… beats so chill they veritably beck and call Kruder & Dorfmeister’s seminal K+D Sessions though these selections are well worth lending your ear to. Parts of the album do hint at the dark, leading you to wonder if “No Boundaries” hails from the haunted side of the tracks… lead laden beats not to be tempted nor tempered by lyrical tone. short but sweet, clean as a thizstle.
the vanishing – “still lifes are falling” – [gold standard labs]
high energy aesthetics coupled with lo-fi production yields danceable dark wave goth featuring distorted reverb-soaked female vox, programmed and live drums, a sax that haunts, fuzzed-out synths that taunt. clean lyrics (except as marked) decry various aspects of the current state of the human condition: “buried beneath the plastic sheen / is a world that’s painted violently”
emotional joystick – “bellicose pacific” – [zod records]
enjoy this man-up from Milwaukee, WI: bleeps, blips ‘n breaks galore are to be found on this full length release from emo::joy and all tracks take aim to please! soundscapes and synths accompany breaktech beats a la aphex twin-esque abrasion mixed with more chill ‘n chunky loops as well. simple video-game like melodic lines work well with the harmonic progressions that back them with a sometimes sparse, sometimes symphonic, ever schizophrenic feel.
note: tr13 = bonus round / hidden track after ~ 3:o3 of silence
triosk – “moment returns” – [leaf label]
triosk administers measured yet delicate doses of minimalist meanderings and moody muses to create an aural tonic that is smooth, sensitive and sophisticated… no bitters here. “moment returns” mixes well with both psychoacoustic sound clash and downtempo acid jazz with equal ease. sparse sound samples form an interactive organic environment which complements this contemplative piano trio nicely.
Kahil El’Zabar & David Murray – “We Is” – [delmark]
an intimate yet brightly mic’d live recording at the Bop Shop record store in Rochester, NY does well to capture these animated players’ performance.
tr1 grooves like the gospel of A Love Supreme; in lieu of Coltrane’s Elvin Jones on trap, here we have the capable Kahil El’Zabar (Ethnic Heritage Ens.) to deliver us the sermon with spirited hand percussion, tasteful trap rhythms and soulful call & response.
tr2, 5 feature upbeat splatter trap ‘n bop squaks – slightly challenging yet ultimately accessible invites to walk amongst the hallowed halls of hard bop
tr3 – delicate thumb organ open, warm vox sing truths throughout, beautiful development of Murray’s sax, rich conversation at -9min then solo vibes kiss with water-like bliss before pump organ confessionals draw this ‘Blues Affirmation? to sombre close
tr4 – swank bass clari + hand perc. that hits right + Band of Gypsys-esque vocal / lyrical feel makes for a toe-tapping time!
melt-banana / big d and the kids table split 7″ (33rpm) – [fork in hand records]
melt-banana – high octane Japanese noise-core cover of Toots and the Maytals’ “Monkey Man” complete with aye-yae-yae’s and yo-yo guitars segues to “Operation 3rd Attack”: wildlife noises then mad scratchin’ and finally full-on noise + feedback + drum bludgeoning, albeit brief.
big d et al. – this is ska-core from Boston, Mass. hard-core riffin’ w/ skankin’ horns. first track is a rockin’ cover of Ministry’s “Thieves” (despite the label’s reversed track ordering), tr2 is original “Apologies” – solid youthful angst w/ decidedly DC sensibility coupled with great primal tom playing finally capitulates w/ almost Morphine-esque closure.
subtle – “A new white.” – [lex records] (US release Oct 12, 2004)
Oakland sextet subtle are Doseone, Jel, Dax Pierson (those three perform as Themselves), Alex Kort, Jordan Dalyrmple and Marty Dowers
and they invite you “to euthanize the yolk slicked white horse you rode in on”
lucious loops and synthetic silicon samples meet watery dirge of probing lyric delivered in doseone’s at times androgynous monotone
recurring images of blood & morgue accompany motif of losing one’s arm / hand which is explored literally and symbolically throughout lyrics, song titles and album art
stethoscope reveals hidden gems of fat beats, tasty teases of textures and opulent on occasion vocal phrasing
slight lang. scattered throughout, mostly of the suggestive imagery variety, marked on liner notes where audible / possible; if there’s one complaint to be made about this album it is the difficulty in discerning the highly substantive lyrics from the vox. fortunately, extensive lyrics have been provided in the line art laden pseudo-copied liner notes which have a quasi-DIY feel
subtle – reminding us that “[there's] more to life than manicured vaginas and a saline solution”
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