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Music Reviews

DJ Shadow – ?Mashin? On The Motorway/Walkie Talkie? – [Island] – (33 rpm)

Hunter Gatherer   2/27/2005   12-inch, Hip Hop

This is a double 12″ single released in June 2003 and consisting mostly of remixes of tracks by DJ Shadow. Oddly enough the title tracks (and the only two radio edits) are on sides B and D.

This is turntable-ing, MC-ing, and remix-ing at its finest. If you like hip-hop even a little, then you will find something to like about this release.

Be sure to check out the Soulwax remix of Six Days (D1), which is almost a DJ Shadow/B-52s mash up, and D4, which is a fast and funny track that would work well on a drive shift.

C1 stretches out a bit, starting with a sample of DJ Shadow from the excellent Scratch documentary, then taking a detour into techno, then back to the turntables. For a more dark, techno vibe, check out B1.

Language: A1 (Check the title), B2 (Though it is a ‘radio edit,? the word motherfucking is barely concealed. I had to listen carefully to hear that the word was scrubbed.)
–Hunter Gatherer

[coll] Anticon Label Sampler: 1999-2004 [Anticon]

stingray   1/13/2005   CD, Hip Hop

An extremely long (almost 80 minutes!) compilation from east-bay hip-hop crew/label Anticon. Even though this is a collection, the tracks blend together, so careful at the start and end of tracks. I’ll split the review into three parts:
Singing: Some of the artists on Anticon are singers rather than rappers. The effect is that of indie-pop with a more hip-hip beat. Artists in this vein include Why? (2, 12, 22, 29) who answers the question ‘what if the Residents played hip-hop?, Passage (6, 18), Restiform Bodies (28), and the Alias track that features Markus Acher of The Notwist (31).
Rapping: In the more traditional hip-hop vein, Alias (4, 14, 20, 25), Sole (5, 13, 21, 32), Themselves (3, 11, 15, 27), Deep Puddle Dynamics (5), and Pedestrian (7, 19) feature skillful and dexterous rapping over backgrounds that vary from melodic and catchy (Pedestrian) to dark and mellow (Alias, plus 5 and 13 by Sole ? produced by Alias), to dark and heavy (Themselves, Deep Puddle Dynamics).
Instrumentals: Odd Nosdam provides dark, heavy, electronic instrumentals (10, 23) and a bit of comic relief (17, which features the Muppet Show bari sax baseline and sampled spoken vocals from TV/film); he also produces Sole tracks 21 and 32. Alias (26), Dosh (30), and Jel (33) provide smoother, trip-hoppier sounds.
Language: 4, 5, 12, 14*, 22, 27
*Only in the spoken outro. ‘Shit? at 3:20 of 3:37.

Stingray

Mr. Bambu — “Did Some Remixes…” — [Organik] — (33rpm)

Hunter Gatherer   1/9/2005   12-inch, Hip Hop

This is an EP of four instrumental hip hop remixes by a mystery man named Mr. Bambu from Gainesville, Florida. It was released 6/2004. (This is his 2nd EP after The Disconbobulation EP.)

Tracks A1 and B1 are remixes of a song by fellow Floridians Burgundy Romance. The first one features rock guitar. The second one is longer and more down tempo with electronica sounds, including that Roland cowbell sound.

A2 is a remix of a song by Mercury Program (also from Florida and sharing a member with Burgundy Romance) that is abstract and appropriately spacey.

B2 has a harder sound with fatter drums and a rock/funk vibe.

All remixes are instrumental, and the more I listened the more it grew on me. Check it out!

–Hunter Gatherer

Science Fiction – Walls Don’t Exist – [Third Earth Music] 33 rpm

Hunter Gatherer   1/5/2005   12-inch, Hip Hop

Science Fiction is Wale Oyejide, a hip hop producer who grew up in Nigeria, spent a few years living in UAE, went to college in Atlanta, and now lives in California. He has released two EPs and an instrumental LP before this full-length release. Before the hip hop bug bit him, he played guitar for an emo band and a Nirvana cover band.

This is instrumental hip hop. It’s spacey and soulful and a very personal album. Song titles like ‘Love Is A Cigarette In Gasoline Hands? give one an idea of what to expect.

Most tracks don’t have lyrics so much as fractured pieces of his interior monologue. After listening to it long enough I started to feel vaguely claustrophobic.

There is a bonus track not marked on the packaging (017), which is a remix of Hold On featuring MF Doom.

Future releases will be under his real name most likely. He has said in interviews that he finds the moniker Science Fiction ‘dorky.’ He adopted the name Sci Fi when starting out because he used to sample from B-movies all the time.

Play this album if it’s raining or if it’s too sunny.

–Hunter Gatherer

subtle – “A new white.” – [lex records]

Funkminsta Fulla   10/13/2004   Hip Hop

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”

mad hatter

Sole – “Selling Live Water ” – [Anticon.]

Daryl Licht   1/9/2003   12-inch, Hip Hop

Anticon member, Sole, returns with a very ambitious and successful
second full-length release. Musically, he throws everything but the
kitchen sink at you, as jazzy horns, vibes, ambient drones, bleeding
Krautrock electronics, and seductive pop guitars are all integrated
quite comfortably with traditional hip-hop beats, scratches, and
classic soul samples. Lyrically, he also covers a lot of ground, with
compelling rants about things we can all relate to (work, relationships,
life/death, geo-politics) and deeply personal, soul baring sketches
(that you also might be able to relate to, depending on your particular
psychoses), as well. Overall, this is a stunning release that fulfills the
goals of the Anticon’mission statement? by transcending the
traditional preconceptions/lmitations regarding what hip-hop is and/or
could/should be. Music for the advancement of hip-hop, indeed! Play! DL