20 Watts


20 Watts Reviews Blockhead’s The Music Scene by jluposello

The Music Scene is Blockhead's fourth release via Ninja Tune.

PREVIEW: VISIT Blockhead’s MySpace

WE GIVE IT: 18/20 Watts

New York’s Tony Simon, aka Blockhead, has often been hailed as the East Coast’s DJ Shadow, an innovator whose work has set him apart from a sea of imitators in the genre. Aside from building his acclaimed discography, Simon has provided production for the Def Jux label’s wunderkind, Aesop Rock, turning out the backing tracks for some of Aesop’s most memorable tunes (see “Daylight”).

As Simon releases his fourth studio effort via the Ninja Tune label, it’s clear that his production style has undergone a revamping for the better. The Music Scene, as Simon describes, is based off of a much more story-oriented writing process than any of his previous work. “I made each song a little more of a musical journey than anything I have ever done before,” he says. And never with more sophistication has Simon produced a record.

Unlike past works, the tracks on The Music Scene resist Simon’s tendency to exploit a comfortable pocket in one musical idea and remain there for the entirety of the song. Each track on the album evolves and grows with a compositional complexity previously unheard in Simon’s work.

Simon shines brightest on the record’s most intriguing track, “The Daily Routine,” which traces a much darker, paranoia-filled trip than the other tracks. Ornamented with clips of two junkies arguing, the track is perhaps the most emotionally engaging on the album. Throughout the record, though, Simon captivates listeners with a newly mastered talent for utilizing loops of live vocals, instrumentation, and beats.

The Music Scene certainly stands as the paramount in Simon’s career thus far, and hopefully foreshadows a new maturity in his forthcoming albums. Simply put, The Music Scene will most likely be hailed for quite some time as Simon’s Endtroducing. Time can only tell though, and surely will for this trip-hop defining milestone.

– John Luposello

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Editor’s Pick #86: Illinoize! by tjwell01
March 17, 2009, 11:00 am
Filed under: Editor Picks | Tags: , , , ,

album-cover-illi12An unlikely mixing master, Tor from Montreal, has mixed a masterpiece that combines the Sufjan Stevens’ album “Illinoise” with hip-hop artists like Outkast and Aesop Rock to make…”Illinoize.”

It’s only a seven-track mix tape, but it spins beautifully with Stevens harmonic voice along with soulful urban poets, like Brother Ali.

My favorite mix has to be “John Wayne Gacy Jr/ Specialize (f. Pete Rock and CL Smooth).” Play this track on a warm day when you’re just chilling in the quad waiting for your next class to start. It puts you in a calm place.

The best part is that you can download the whole album for free on Tor’s site.

The raps are smooth and passionate, much like the hip-hop from my favorite time in the early 1990s. Check it out. It won’t disappoint.

—–Jett Wells, Co-Reviews Editor

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