Nas / Autechre/The Hafler Trio / Ferenc / Keith Fullerton Whitman / Dead Machines / Lloyd Banks
The Rubber Room column is a monthly look at recent and notable releases that don’t fall into the rubric of traditional reviewed material—namely 12”s, EPs, and MP3 only releases.
A Thief's Theme
[Big Mike & Alchemist Dead or Alive Part 3 Mixtape, 2004]
The Iron Butterfly sample that this track revolves around is a little played out (check Chino XL’s far superior usage), and "A Thief's Theme”’s attempt at reviving Nasty Nas’ Illmatic menace is way off target; it even goes as far as to lamely snip a line from “The World Is Yours” for its hook. I once read an interview with an artist who'd been employed as one of William Burroughs’ cultural antennas (apparently he had people whose job it was to keep him up to speed with what was cutting edge in his later years), she talked at length about how a sample carries a residual influence from its source to its new destination beyond mere sonics. Nas needs to move on.
Autechre / The Hafler Trio
ae3o & h3ae (2x3”)
While the pairing of the willfully obscure Andrew McKenzie with a pair of twitchy beatmakers seems like possible muddle, the three meet halfway on some spacious and suggestive drones, Ae forgoing the usual tic-and-skip in favor of frosty synth sprawl that sounds like one of their information-stuffed beats chilling to absolute zero. “ae3o” suggests meditative distance and internal tension, like an interstellar void filling with a mist of high-energy particles. “h3ae” patrols considerably earthier territory in its accretion of pressurized harmonics and tingly resonance, yet retains the sharp focus and pacing of its companion. A thought-provoking smartly packaged addition to its creators’ respective catalogs.
“France” sees this Spanish duo stick it to the country atop them by constructing acid trance combination soaked in reverb. Surrendering never felt so transcendent. Flip it over. “Bul” isn’t so easily re(a)d. Until the beat comes scarfing up everything around it, galloping down the streets of Madrid/schaffeling towards morning. Why do the non-Germans of Komapkt do trance so much better?
Keith Fullerton Whitman
Antithesis (12” LP)
Whitman’s second Kranky outing ambles like the loose-and-jammy younger brother to the well mannered Playthroughs. Glittery, computer-scrubbed guitar twinkle is notably absent; instead, untreated keys, guitars, and percussion fold into rough-edged chamber works with roots in a mish-mosh of compositional influence. “Twin Guitar Rhodes Viola Drone (For La Monte Young)” wins the truth-in-advertising award for its swooning feedback canyons and slow-unfolding arpeggios, while “Obelisk (For Kurt Schwitters)” gathers a handsome pile of static debris worthy of its namesake. On the B-side, “Rhodes Viola Multiple” dissolves tight tonal swirls in a haze of tape-echo decay, but “Schnee” disappoints with watery Krautrock twiddle. Three out of four ain’t bad—here’s hoping some of the grit carries over to Whitman’s forthcoming full-length.
Mach Warning Bell
[American Tapes, 2004]
C30 containing 32 minutes (credit is due to Dead Machines if for that) of distorted machines being run into a wall over and over again. And then some static and then some muted FM rock playing in the background at all times. The second side tackles the continuity issue a bit better, coming off like a full length piece that explores the brutality inherent in the life of a beekeeper.
On Fire (Promo 12")
I'd hung all my hopes on Lloyd Banks making me look like less of a prat by proving that my faith in the talent of (and my enjoyment in) G-Unit was justified. I am very disappointed. Topped off by a silly "I'm a hot MC" hook, and you've got a talented lyricist (I truly believe it) dumbing himself down for radio play. "One Fire” is sadly only noteworthy for the fact that Eminem's production doesn't sound generic. The ubiquitous Mohawks sample may give this a hint of old school flavour, but it’s a weak opener for a solo career.
By: Stylus Staff
Published on: 2004-04-27