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The Rubber Room
El-P and Ghostface / Rashamon / Lim / Foetus / The Confusions / Ox/Kid Lightning
The Rubber Room column is a weekly look at recent and notable releases that don’t fall into the rubric of traditional reviewed material—namely 7”’s, 12”’s, 3” CDs, EPs, cassette-only, DVDs and MP3-only releases.
El-P and Ghostface
Hide Ya Face (El-P remix)
[Def Jux, 2004]
Originally these two MCs vocals went over an as-yet-unheard Prefuse 73 beat (on the forthcoming 2005 LP). This is the big ginger El-Producto’s version of the track showing him and Ghost getting down with the pasty faced underground. At this stage, with the universal goodwill afforded from Pretty Toney, Ghost can do whatever he likes and it’s good that he’s branching out by messing with some more experimental beat makers. While not as awesome as you’d initially expect / hope, this low slung revolving groove and spooky moaning female vocal is just odd enough to hook in a few more listeners. Strangely the Def Jux site lists the track as “HYA”, while the chorus is unmistakably “Hide Ya Face”.
[Highpoint Lowlife, 2004]
Fetishists take note: Windo Loca is a sweet slab of 7-inch vinyl from Brighton’s Rashamon (the name a deliberate misspelling of Kurosawa’s film title) that pairs Seb Wyatt’s guitar loops with Lee Hume’s programming, sampling, and rambling on two crunchy head-nodders. Experimental and fluid, the title cut places slow-motion, hip-hop beats and skittish breaks front and center, and colours them with subtle wisps of melodic sparkles and droning guitar strums; the B side’s “(Forgotten) Sherpa Folk Song” merges gentle phasing patterns with slamming beat clatter and manic xylophones. (Note too that Rashamon’s equally fine “Mates To Some Pilgrim” original along with remixes from Si-cut.db, Motion, and Fisk Industries are available as free downloads at the Highpoint Lowlife site.)
Apparently Conneticut-based Lim (Darren Milos) generated Embracing Hush from a fifteen-second flute sample lifted from a psychedelic-prog group’s album, though you’d hardly know it from the twenty minutes of ambient excursions comprising this 3-inch disc. While there’s nary a flute to be heard on these samplings from Lim’s sonic garden, spirits do rouse from slumber to the accompaniment of dubby smears, vaporous loops, cloudy textures, and crackling drones. Of the four pieces, “Hushpointsignals,” with its alien radio glissandi and clicking surges, is especially memorable.
Time Marches On (End remix)
[Foetus Homepage, 2004]
Busting out from the sadly so-so (not adam) EP comes a very much needed robust End (Ipecac’s latest killer signing) rockabilly breakbeat remix to pep things up. Coming out to chain swinging motorcycle revs and a bassline borrowed from Big Jim’s “Roadhouse Blues” this has some of that rock and roll attitude that Jim ‘Foetus’ Thirwell has been a cheap purveyor of since 1981. Somewhere between a Bond theme, a Jon Spencer Blues Explosion flipside and a baby Kid606, this mix bounces along like a cartoon Hells Angel between jumps on a repeating noisy loop to a skittering and shuddering metal on tarmac end.
Don’t Let The World Catch You Crying EP
This four song EP is taken from the Swedish group’s sessions for their upcoming 2005 album. The title track “Don’t Let The World Catch You Crying” is a chip off the pure pop block that Coldplay, Snow Patrol, and U2 have recently made so omnipresent on alternative format radio stations: plaintive vocals, piano codas that rise from the crash of crispy clean guitar riffs, and simple beats all coalesce to drive towards “true” emotion. The final track here “Long Gone” is a melancholy slow burn that rides on a distorted guitar line and a metronomic drum machine groove, while a simple piano accents a chorus of voices. It’s not the finger snapper that “Don’t Let The World Catch You Crying” is, but seems instead much more of a risk. Don’t expect to see it make the final cut.
Intercontinental Pop Exchange #6
Brought to us by the good folks at Endearing Records the Intercontinental Pop Exchange series is intended to introduce music fans to artists from different countries, scenes and continents. Each IPX release features two bands from different parts of the world contributing three or four songs each. The idea being to pair artists with a complementary style in the hopes that fans of one will attract fans of the other. IPX #6 features the confessional singer songwriting of Ox and former Gigolo Aunt Kid Lightning. Ox doesn’t stray too far from the formula they perfected on their 2003 album Dust Bowl Revival. The songs here are loose country inflected pop. Ox’s four songs have a work in progress feel as studio banter, starts and stops, a terrible Elvis impression, are left unedited. Shining through the clutter are some fine moments. “Miss Idaho”, an ode to the awkward transition from beauty pageant winner to Playboy Bunny, rides on a chunky guitar riff and a shambling beat. The revelation here is Ox’s cover of Cheap Trick’s “Surrender” which turns the anthemic call of the original into an introspective folk song.
Kid Lightning’s four songs have considerably more polish than Ox. The songs include a cover of the Cars “I’m Not The One” as well as two songs from his album Her Smallest Breath Is Full of Grace. These songs lack the loose boozy feel of the Ox songs, but give a good impression of the heartbroken troubadour that Kid Lightning plays on Her Smallest Breath…. “Back To You” is a pretty song but wilts a bit under the pervasive weight of lost love that is its emotional core. “Lullaby for Griffin” has some charm but ultimately is best left to its intended purpose.
The CD also contains video footage of each artist. The Ox half is a seven part series covering the making of Dust Bowl Revival and is only for the confirmed fan. The Kid Lightning video is easier to digest, but the real jewels here are the songs. You can take or leave the video.
By: Stylus Staff
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