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The Music Scene
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  • For now, let's leave aside the question of what makes instrumental hip-hop "hip-hop." (Samples? Breakbeats? A certain general texture or mood or variety of funkiness?) Instead of worrying about genre or categories, let's just focus on the quality of the music on Blockhead's third Ninja Tune release, which is close to jaw-dropping. It's not just the variety of source materials from which he draws, though that alone is pretty impressive: "It's Raining Clouds," the album's opening track, wanders from a cool downtempo mood to a sort of restrained drum'n'bass jitter by the end; "The Prettiest Sea Slug" swings indolently under an explicitly jazzy saxophone and piano; "Tricky Turtle" pairs an old-school funk vibe with splanky guitars, greasy horns, and a possibly African vocal sample; "Four Walls" critiques Auto-Tune abusers with a slow 6/8 groove and over the top vocoder effects. But the album's centerpiece is both more serious and more disturbing: titled "The Daily Routine," it features a laid-back and frankly quite pretty instrumental backing track over which are layered recordings of a drug-addicted couple having a screaming, profanity-laced argument. Everyone makes sample-based music these days, but very few people use found sounds and prefab musical snippets as creatively and thoughtfully as Blockhead does. Maybe he needs a new stage name. ~ Rick Anderson
Professional Reviews
Alternative Press (p.90) - 4 stars out of 5 -- "'The Daily Routine' will give you chills with its creepy samples....A fantastic disc that's solid throughout."
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