usic genres really do come and go quickly: consider that rap music, predicted by most to be a short-lived fad, has had a longer heyday than swing music. Electronic music, as more of a set of niche genres than a unified sound, will likely also outlast swing in some form, but also, due to the elasticity of what it is, clearly isn’t playing by the same set of rules. Electronic and hip-hop’s strange green-eyed child, hip-hop instrumentalism, is neither dying nor likely in its golden age, although the continued existence of DJ Shadow, RJD2, DJ Krush, and The Avalanches could make for one. However, this self-titled release by Japanese DJ duo Neutrino is an important record in the sub-genre’s continued existence: it is yet another mediocre effort in beats without rhymes. And the mediocre masses matter to the continued commercial viability of any genre, just as the middle class does to a capitalist economy.
End of theory. As for Neutrino, there aren’t too many highlights or lowlights to speak of: it’s a record you put on, nod to for a moment, and then, 45 minutes later, notice, to some surprise, is done playing, if only because you forgot it was playing in the first place. Standard beats, smooth keyboards synthesized horns and other instruments, and one repeating vocal sample is the blueprint here. Where most hip-hop instrumentalists thrive on putting some dust in the mix, Neutrino keep their sound Lysol clean, which combined with their minimalist approach really makes it easy to see how little they have going for them. “Moo-D,” the one song that gets a little dirt under its fingernails, is deducted dust points for relying on the same “a-one-two” sample first used by a troglodyte DJ in the early Stone Age. The Digable Planets vocal (from “Rebirth Of Slick,” no less!) slipped unashamedly into “D-Planets” just makes me scratch my head.
“GP” takes a side voyage into Jay Dee’s electro-bop village before returning to lounge land. “Syrupaman” at least mixes the sounds of chirping birds and exploding fireworks into the same ol’ song. And “Rock Oil” manages to be smooth while not dull, but this may only be an illusory effect caused by its placement at the top of the record. Otherwise, Neutrino is a record very difficult to comment on, let alone pay attention to. Destined for heavy rotation in $12 martini bars everywhere, this is truly music to sit on uncomfortable modern furniture to, straining to act hip while you stir your overpriced vanilla-laced concoction. And by those standards, it’s kinda funky.
Reviewed by: Josh Drimmer
Reviewed on: 2004-10-08