Monday, July 19, 2010

New Cut Chemist CD with a Mind Blowing Genre Defying Sound

After listening to Cut Chemist’s new CD “Sound of the Police,” I’m at a complete loss of words to describe it properly. To say that it’s awesome, amazing, or completely unique would be entirely inadequate. The CD is based on a live performance that he did for the Timeless Concert Series, easily one of the most genre bending, complex, and exploratory approaches to music ever. The series brings together hip hop giants like Madlib and Cut Chemist with renowned international artists from Brazil and Ethiopia among other places, but it forces them to push their own limits. Each international composer is asked to do a set of their all time hits along with a new piece, whereas the DJ is asked to build a set around the legacy of the composer as well as their era.

Cut Chemist just tears his set up. The mix really starts to heat up about 9 minutes into the performance when he busts out funk infused break beats to offer a backdrop for the plaintive wails of an Ethiopian singer – at least I think it’s Ethiopian. From there it really takes off, with nearly an hour of non-stop music in which your ears never know what to expect. My personal favorite moment is about 33 minutes into the set, the vocals drop out and the bass line explodes with a nice steady rhythm and the guitar and horns start playing what could almost be called funk or jazz, if it weren’t tinged with such an exotic sound. With an amazing blend of Ethiopian, Colombian, Sudanese, and Afro-Brazilian sounds along with funk, jazz, soul, and traditional break beats, this is literally like nothing you have heard before.

What’s even cooler is that the production technique behind this unique sound was equally challenging. In an attempt try something different, Cut Chemist only used one turntable, a mixer, and a loop pedal. The crackle you hear on the recording is from the records themselves. For the mix, he dug deep into his crates to turn up original records, some over 30 years old.

Originally, the “Sound of the Police” was going to be a one time performance in which he opened for Ethiopia’s famed Mulatu Astatke in 2009. However, after recording the practice session, it became fairly obvious that this performance needed to be heard by as many people as possible. Cut Chemist sums it up the best, “You don’t have to be into DJs to enjoy this show. It’s like walking a sonic tight rope and the audience gets to see me fall if something goes wrong. The interesting parts are when I mess up and fix it. The audience goes crazy and appreciates what a difficult balancing act this actually is."

Download the whole live performance here or just listen to it above. Either way listen. You won’t regret it.

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