Beats – March 2009
June 29, 2009 § Leave a comment
Published: Music Australia Guide #63, March 2009.
BEATS with Dan Rule
Smoke n Mirrors
The first cut on Smoke n Mirrors confirms B-Real was the creative and conceptual force behind Cypress Hill. On his solo debut, the Chicano rap icon eschews the metal-rap leanings of his crew’s latter output to offer up one of the more solid examples of LA boom-bap of 2009. Riddled with raw funk and reggae-flecked beats, the record draws on contributions from Snoop, Damian Marley, Bo Roc and Cypress accomplice Sen Dog to weave its surprisingly reflective narrative. There are some glittery production missteps near its end, but on the whole Smoke n Mirrors is a vintage West Coast offering.
To run a review of Triage under a “Beats” header is something of a ruse. Throughout this singular 58-minute track, DJ Olive doesn’t allow even one whisper of a rhythmic intonation, let alone a beat. Rendered via a turntable, quite incredibly, this stunning opus represents the third instalment in the New York iconoclast’s Sleeping Pill series, and it is just that. Winding through various opaque, droning, textural movements, Triage sways between various modes of near-silence. It is nonetheless engulfing. DJ Olive has created a work that is impossible to ignore. Immersive, narcotic, dreamy and ominous, Triage transcends. This is an experience.
Laser Disc recalls an era when MC Gentleman Gene and DJ Debonair P – the Melbourne duo behind Low Budget – were just a twinkle in their parents’ eyes. Where their 2006 debut Magnasound shouldered up with sparse, downbeat soul, Laser Disc is mid-’70s disco and early ’80s electro funk personified. Pulsing synths, agile guitar licks, squirming bass lines and heavy-set beats underlay GG’s razor-sharp verse. Like last month’s Madlib Remix record, Laser Disc pulls it off remarkably well. The dense synths, bouncing bass and agile industry talk of the brilliant Low Demand makes for one of cuts of the summer.
Minnesota rapper P.O.S. doesn’t do things half-paced. His striking sophomore Never Better is a grenade, a bombshell, a bike stack with no helmet – words, noise, distortion and beats, packed, layered, squished and shaken vigorously. From the atonal guitars of opener Let it Rattle, it doesn’t let up. Like so many of his Midwest contemporaries, P.O.S.’s mic skills are off the charts and the proficiency of his uber-conscious wordplay is frightful. But there is no space for light and shade. Never Better reels off at 100 clicks for its entirety. Sometimes you just need time to breathe it all in.
Telefon Tel Aviv
Spaciousness and intimacy coalesce on Telefon Tel Aviv’s third LP. Sprawling atmosphere, texture and tight pop dynamics share the same breath. It shouldn’t be a surprise; Joshua Eustis and Charles Cooper have pulled this off before. 2004’s Map of Effortless was a document of inimitable electronic quality. But Immolate Yourself ups the ante remarkably. Whilst its rhythmic structures and melodic core stick to a minor-key model set out by ’80s forefathers like Depeche Mode, it would be an underestimation to denote this as mere pop music. This record echoes with all the sophistications of IDM, ambience and noise, bridging each world effortlessly.