Saturday, 4 January 2003

Album Review: Constant Elevation

I bought this compilation last summer and it's taken me until now to get round to forming an opinion on it.

Things start, as perhaps they should, with Day After The Day After by the saviour of underground hip hop, El-P. The producer du jour proves once again why he is so highly regarded in hip hop circles with another awesome instrumental track.

Schrodinger's Cat by Omid is the standout track on the LP. A fantastic drum and bass track that floats around in outer space for around 2 minutes before reaching a drum break as good as any since Ashley's Roachclip by the Soul Searchers. It really is an extraordinary piece of music that everyone should go out of their way to hear. While Omid's other contribution Wading Venus doesn't quite the dizzying heights set by Schrodiger's Cat it remains a decent slab of funky hip hop.

What the CD succeeds in doing so well is blending unidentified space age sounds with old school beats and breaks. No track illustrates this blend better than Vox Apostolica by Steinski. A Buddhist chant plays over an Ike Turner-esque drum break. It's truly remarkable.

There is a vast range in the music on offer here. Besides the aforementioned Omid tracks, Anti-Pop Consortium's Crab Lice is a melange of rapping, scratching and what sounds like a high-tempo game of Pong - it's one of the weirdest things I've ever heard. It's utterly bizarre, but another great piece of hip hop. Of the more orthodox tracks, Rawcore by Peanut Butter Wolf & Madlib stands out. It's a collection of scratching and vocal samples any fans of RJD2s awesome Deadringer will be familiar with. The only other truly vocal track on here comes courtesy of long-time underground hip hop champions, Freestyle Fellowship. The track Crazy is one of the group's best.

It's far too weird and challenging to be to everybody's taste, and even those who do go on to like it might not find themselves enjoying that much on the first couple of listens. Certainly any fans of the Def Jux label would be wise to buy this immediately.

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