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High Water Enhanced


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Product details

  • Audio CD (19 July 2004)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Format: Enhanced
  • Label: Thirsty Ear
  • ASIN: B000197G98
  • Other Editions: Vinyl  |  MP3 Download
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 114,856 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

1. Please Stay (Yesterday)
2. Sunrise Over Bklyn
3. Get Your Hand Off My Shoulder, Pig
4. Get Modal
5. Intrigue In The House Of India
6. Something Is Wrong
7. When The Moon Was Blue
8. Please Leave (Yesterday)
9. High Water (Multi-Media Track)

Product Description

BBC Review

The Blue Series imprint is one of the most consistently adventurous American labels to have emerged in the last couple of years. One of its defining features is curator and pianist Matthew Shipp's willingness to experiment with loose collaborations between jazz musicians and experimentally inclined DJs and producers like Spring Heel Jack and DJ Spooky.

Avant hip-hop producer and rapper El-p (of Company Flow fame) is the latest addition to the list, teaming up here with a stellar cast of New York's finest players including Shipp, bassist William Parkerand trumpeter Roy Campbell.

It's become de rigeur to try and talk up the similarities between jazz and hip-hop (and indeed on the CD's accompanying documentary film you can hear El-p attempting that very thing), but this record (as you might expect) doesn't really attempt a straight fusion of the two. The problem is, its hard to know what it's trying to do.

What it sounds like is a fairly aimless jam session, which has then been played around with a bit on a computer and spiced up with a few beats and samples. This is an approach that can work wonders in the right hands, but El-p seems unwilling or unable to effectively engage with the material he has to work with.

Equally, the musicians seem to be slumming it much of the time as they fiddle around with the basic two chord vamps, simple riffs and skeletal modal constructionsthey're given to play with, or (on three tracks) Charles Aznavour's "Yesterday When I Was Young".

Here Shipp trots out pointless cocktail pianisms, presumably in an attempt to be ironic.It doesn't work.The longest of the three interpretationsadds a recording of El-p's dad crooning the song. It says much that this is possibly the most involving moment on the record.

It takes a lot to make the likes of Shipp, Parker and Daniel Carter sound like a bunch of noodlers, so maybe El-p should be congratulated on that front. There are moments of clarity and focus ("Get Your Hand Off My Shoulder, Pig" features some tidy rhythmic interplay, and Roy Campbell's luminous trumpet solo at the start of "Sunrise Over Bklyn" touches a few nerves), but by the time they've arrived you may well have lost the will to live; "Get Modal" has to be the most pointless, drivelsome thing I've heard this year.

Though High Water may have seemed like a good idea at the time (and still looks like one on paper), it certainly doesn't sound like one. A wasted opportunity this time, but no doubt Shipp and his mates have got much more up their collective sleeves. Watch this space... --Peter Marsh

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 9 Jun. 2004
Format: Audio CD
NEW TO EL-P: hes the champion of the underground in hiphop, with company flow produced a classic album "funcrusher plus" entirely produced by himself. hes also started the backpackers(underground hiphop head) favourite label "definitive jux". hes famous for using sounds like theyre from outer space and not following convention. so its strange hes putting out what is essentially a jazz album. but dont the mistake in thinking he is just a hiphop person; hes a musical producer.
thats what hes done here. id listening to all his work, fantastic damage, cold vein, beats for fellow def jukies, little johnny from the hospital and funcrusher plus and so on. but then again ive always liked jazz and copped the 3 jazzmatazzs series by guru. although theyre very different (no emceeing on high water), you can identify the hiphop influence.
but this album exceeded my expectations. of course i was sceptical of el-p making a jazz album. but hes produced well here. thank god theres no emceeing, and it sounds right. if you didnt know el-ps past you would think he was a jazz musician. and of course you would, the percussion is brilliant, the horns flow beautifully: this is beautiful music. except track 8 where the vocals dont quite fit.
if you like cinematic orchestra, youll like this. if you like dj shadow, youll like this. if you like rjd2, youll like this. if you liked el-ps hiphop, youll probably like this.
its a summer afternoon lounging at home music, and whatever else you want it to be.
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Format: Vinyl
Amazing album, jazz with phat beatz, no rapping. Not your usual el-p album. Sounds great on cd but even better on vinyl.
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1 of 5 people found the following review helpful By L. HAMILTON-WARGENT on 5 July 2004
Format: Audio CD
Discordant music aplenty here. At first its hard to get to grips with, EL-P tries to paint the landscape of Brooklyn through the Jazz/Instrumental opus, its very dark and in places somewhat reptitive. The song composition is truly great, subtle yet quite moving, my only disappoint comes in the shape of Sunrise of Brooklyn, which has the billing of closing track and what many might see as the masterpiece of this effort. However, to me its raises question marks over the musicians ability to realise EL-P vision, at times the Blue Series Continuum are not only discordant but seemingly have lost the ability to play their instruments, nice idea on the whole but the execution is quite poor.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 17 reviews
11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
The best Blue Series entry to date 12 Mar. 2004
By E. J. Sawdey - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
Let's face it - Matthew Shipp's Blue Series has been hit or miss. While his own works (particularly "Nu-Bop") have been intriguing and well-done, the Blue Series Continuum sometimes doesn't know when to reign it all in. Take the Spring Heel Jack entrys - though the textures are interesting, the group simply meanders too much without holding true to a fine melody. The who-would've-thunk collaboration with the Anti-Pop Consortium was when the group was at their most focused - though the songs themselves simply were not interesting. "Pastoral Composure" was when the group was in their prime.
Regardless, Matthew Shipp remains the best living jazz pianist, period, end of story. Yet, one wonders if the group could ever make a throughly coherent effort end-to-end.
With "High Water (Mark)", they do.
El-P, the man who creates the creepiest and most fascinating beats in hip-hop today (sorry, Kanye) tackles a jazz project, with surrealistic and beautiful results.
Like Steve Lillywhite on Dave Matthews Band's "Under the Table and Dreaming", El-P manages to maintain the continuum's improvisational astetic while making it more concise and making it routed in simpler melodies. The opening number, "Please Stay (Yesterday)", is surprisingly controlled and mellow. Soon comes the 10-minute epic "Sunrise Over Bklyn", and even at its length, it still manages to be grounded in a melody and still be a beautiful rainy-day piece of electronijazz. "Get Modal" features an almost unrecognizable version of the Black Eyed Peas "Where Is the Love?" for the melody, and goes off in wild directions from there.
What the album maintains best is a sense of continuity. The title somewhat reflects El-P's production - he's hardly in the opening track at all, but as the album progresses, his presence on the collective is gradually felt, cumulating in the dark and oddly beautiful "When the Moon Was Blue", featuring a vocal sample of his father. He still throws in samples into "Intrigue in the House of India" (the electro-drum-tap opener) and, oddly, coheres to some pop song structures (admittedly the DARKEST pop you've ever heard, but still similar structures). And, unlike previous Blue Series entries, here there are no two songs that are even relatively similar. Each has its own feel and life to it. Not only is this Shipp's best effort, but it's also one of El-P's most consistant. This is one of the unlikliest and still best pairings the Series has come up with.
Interstingly, this album came out the same day as another fascinating effort - The Bad Plus' "Give", which, though more conventional, is still a sprawling and encompassing effort. With these two already out the door and Norah Jones' pop-jazz topping the charts with a vengence, it appears that 2004 just might be the year of jazz.
9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
Angry, but not with El-P 15 Jun. 2004
By Jason Harrington - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
I admit, when I initially purchased this CD, I expected El-P to bust a flow or two at some point--nigh. Ironically, I also stumbled upon a used copy of Mile Davis' Birth of the Cool in the same shopping excursion. So I was forced to compare the two (as if), and to tell the truth: I wasn't even really in the mood for jazz at the time. Anyway, I shelved both of them for a few weeks and later revisited High Water once I had removed my thumb. After fully knowing what to expect now and waiting for the proper mood, I dove back in to that water and it was cool and serene. This album is brilliant in all it's shifting moods, and quite frankly: I'm sick to death of jazz and hip-hop purists emulating the closed mindedness of the R&B and contemporary Christian consumers that they so often oppose. When Miles went electric people acted like he did a Pepsi commercial or something. Dark Magus is every bit as valid as Kind of Blue, Bitches Brew, or even Birth of the Cool. Yeah, I said it!! Whatchu gonna do about it? Answer: nothing (obviously), and El-P is every bit as just in his departure from the norm as any legend has ever been. On the one side you have critics who will say he ruined Matthew Shipp's playing, but on the other side you have people like me who are going to go out and buy two or three more Matthew Shipp CDs just because of how good his piano sounds on this one. You can't complain about the industry getting stale while at the same time critisicing a groundbreaking artist for stepping further outside the box. I mean: what did you expect? This is El-P you know! In short: these arrangements represent a very unique approach to making a jazz record with a mood somewhat reminiscent of Miles Davis' Kind of Blue. This is not Prefuse 73, and it is not DJ Shadow, but i'm sure both of those gentlemen rushed out to purchase this right away because it honors their deep respect of both melodic atmosphere, and the cut-and-paste technique. The difference is that this album plays out more like lost tapes from some unknown jazz session. It's obvious that there is some sampler action happening, but it should also be obvious that the majority of these instruments are not regurgitated, but instead: actual live instruments living and breathing among the paranoid production antics of the damaged robot known as El-P. No, he does not rap on this CD at all. Get over it (I did)!
7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
i've been looking for something like this 1 Jun. 2005
By BLuTT - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
i've always wanted to hear this record, but didn't quite know it, and didn't know where to begin. i knew someone out there had to be creating a contemporary, bluesy sound that was infused with some more modern sounds, but the few things i found that i thought might fit the bill just didn't (madlib, blockhead, rjd2). when this came out, i braced myself for disappointment again. then when i read some terrible reviews, i just didn't pursue the album anymore. which was a mistake. this has probably been out there for 6 months now, and now that i have finally heard it, it's nearly exactly what i'd been looking for. i am not versed in jazz or blues at all, so i can't comment on how faithful this remains to any of it, but i've always heard and liked certain aspects of both, but never either of them as a whole. same with hip hop. so, finding a record that marries both, tastefully, was going to be tough. this does it pretty well. truthfully, i think there could be a little more of el-p's personality here, and it wouldn't hurt. if anything, it would spice it up a bit.

i can't really break this down track by track, because i feel like this is something that i put on to listen to as a complete work. and, as a complete work, even though it comes in at around 44 minutes, i feel like when i listen to it, it seems a bit too short. if it clocked in at about an hour, i think it would be just right.

i can see people really not liking this. it just isn't for everyone, and if you go looking for aspects to pick on, as a fan of traditional blues, jazz, or hip hop, i'm sure there's plenty for you to tear into. but, for me, i'm not interested in picking it part. for once, i wanted something i could just hear and not have to consider any politics at all about. nor was i looking to put el-p under a microscope to see what he was really made of. it seems people either love him or hate him, and, as a result, are constantly looking to make or break him. i just want to let the guy go, because he seems to be doing fine. this record was the solid, blues/jazz/hip hop i needed. if you're looking for something like that, this might be perfect for you.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Hip-Hop Producer Tackles, Jazz....(Listeners Responses will Vary!!!) 14 Nov. 2006
By fetish_2000 - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
Taking one of leftfield hip-hop's most celebrated producers, and giving him the opportunity to work with the modern creative / Improvisational jazz label "Thirsty Ear", doesn't exactly inspire confidence with those accustomed to the sci-fi beats normally associated with El-P's work. But then the Thirsty Ear label is far more interested in taking disparate artists and merging their ideas and arrangements with the performers, of the up-and-coming experimental jazz label.

Largely based around the collaborations, with pianist Matthew Shipp, bassist William Parker, drummer Guillermo E. Brown, Daniel Carter on reeds and flute, Steve Swell on trombone, and trumpeter Roy Campbell. What this amounts to, is El-P not only performing (one would assume with the sampling, Beat creation, and Mixing of tracks), but he also arranges and produces all of the 8 Tracks. And what you get a series of loose ideas mixed with improvisation and the merging of EL-P's production skill (and an unrealised knack for leftfield jazz composition), feed through the performers, who interpret his ideas into fully workable tracks.

Those that are familiar with the more fractured and loosely performed end of Jazz fusion / Avant-garde Jazz, or indeed the `Thirsty Ear' label, wouldn't be surprised by the ambitious blend of shimmering soundscapes and Lush melancholic textured sound, that sits alongside synthetic beats, off-centre grooves, and droning bass. Almost like theres a tangible line between finesse and brutality. For every passage of sublime trumpet and rhythm section working in harmony, to create a mood and haunting sound, that sounds a million miles away from El-P's previous work, there's sudden changes in the direction of sound, with droning noise, mixing a complex interweaving of various sounds and tempos, that contradict each other, but under the performance of such uniformly skilled performers, feels like a mildly thrilling tug-of-war, between tension and release.

It's not entirely known as to exactly how much fans of EL-P's work, will take to a project such as this. As it has very little to do with his, "Definitive Jux" or "Company Flow" work. In fact the only similarities are an approach to thinking `outside the box' in terms of construction. That not to say that hip-hop fans won't enjoy this, but I fear that the vast majority will be repelled by the abstract instrumentation, Matthew shipp's subtle tumbling piano, improvisational rhythms, and muted hip-hop beats, which will simply have no logical path for those unaccustomed to this kind of music. With it all sounding like a group of guys messily jamming with half-formed ideas, with minimal interruption from El-P. But on the other side of the coin, there'll be those (like me), that find the loose structure and atmospheric and vibrant playing, swelling synths, lightly interspersed computer sampling, ominous trombone blowing, sparsely insistent piano, that make for, on occasion...indulgently sprawling avant-jazz pieces with a consistently adventurous tone, and a willingness to effectively engage the listener, is incredibly admirable. Especially considering how EL-P is aware of how many of his fans will undoubtedly shun a release such as this.

In fact this project reminds me of slight parallels with "Sun Ra's" work.....in so far as it's capable of moments of sheer beautifully restrained moody moments, that touch on the affecting moments of Jazz, only to be contradicted by formless improvisation grooves, that feel like musicians keen to push the envelope, with little consideration for melody or structure. And for me personally that works perfectly well...as I truly appreciate both aspects of that form of music, and like "Sun Ra's" work it can be a real `Love Em' or `Hate Em' affair with their music. And although I love what EL-P has done here, I must review this with a word of caution, as there'll be those that'll buy this album, seeing EL-P's name on the cover, and end up feeling ripped off after listening to it. ...not releasing that this is a `Jazz' album first and foremost. For those familiar with the "Thirsty Ear" label, this is one of the most accessible titles in their Catalogue, and I would seriously recommend it to those that are willing to buy this knowing what to expect. Atmospheric, vibrant, superbly played, brilliantly produced and as complex and subtle as it is accessible/inaccessible, I'll freely admit that I'm loving this album at the moment, and although I've given it four stars, I reckon subsequent listens further down the line, will push this up to a 4 ½ - 5 stars.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Great Production 29 April 2004
By David Knott - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
I was very surprised to find so many harsh reviews of this album -- granted, not everyone will like it, but I found it to be very well produced, stylish, and at times quite dramatic. The accusations made against it for being too loose make little sense to me when comparing the album to free and avant garde jazz. It is, in fact, highly structured, usually driven by a repeating drum loop or bass. Why are higher standards for structure held to this album? Is it because El-p typically produces hip hop? Give me a break. It is as a whole a coherent, accessible piece of music.
"Get Your Hand Off My Shoulder, Pig" is a six minute piece of some very jazzy hip hop, driven by an intense piano melody, catchy "dirty" drums and saxophone. "Get Modal" is certainly one of the catchier tracks, with a very memorable bassline and "whoa whoa whoa" sample. "Something is Wrong" is reminiscent of El-p's Fantastic Damage, with a jazzy touch. The album then winds down from these tracks and closes with "Please Leave (Yesterday)".
It has been my personal experience that people are overly cynical of non-jazz artists doing jazz. Many musical elitists like to imagine jazz as an entity separate from the rest of music, reserved only for royalty. The truth is, looking past these prejudices, High Water is a great record, independent of who its producers are.
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