This collection of Bill Laswell
productions is obviously a labor of love put together by a man who misses hip-hop's old school. Though it features artists as current as Prince Paul
and New Kingdom
, the album's focus on turntable scratching and a preponderance of relatively simple, monolithic beats make it sound like a period piece. That's not a bad thing, especially when Laswell
imbues the proceedings with an up-to-the-minute ambience and a rumbling bass (as in bass guitar, not 808). But the complete absence of rapping -- the only thing that keeps this from actually being a hip-hop record -- may leave some listeners scratching their heads. Instead, we get a Bootsy Collins
cameo (never a problem) and the occasional sample of a right-wing radio preacher. Some of the scratching is truly virtuosic; in particular, witness the retro-ensemble sound of the Filipino turntable group the Invisibl Skratch Picklz
and the quicksilver manipulations of DJ DXT. Laswell's
production overlays everything with a spacy, ambient sheen.