Producer / DJ 'Boom Bip' (AKA - Bryan Hollon"), isn't your usual Hip-Hop Producer, instead of working with the usual thumping Bass / Beats, that most Hip-Hop producers work with. His is a far more Experimental / Avant-Garde sound, steeped in a melancholic, detached, brooding (largely) instrumental form of Hip-Hop, that borrows as much from Electronica, as it does Hip-Hop.
The first track "Roads must Roll", is the Hip-Hop equivalent of having a broadly instrumental ambient Folk, with scuffed dusty-beats, leading into a passage of ominous preset synths, and a looping violin sample, that breaks though the sound on occasion, and thus, feels more in-debt to soundtrack music than Hip-Hop, and this is topped off with the most subtlest of scratching, which feels more for dramatic effect, rather that showboating....a marvellous opening track, and (mostly) unlike anything else everybody else is currently in this field.
"Third Steam", changes tack slightly, with a weird off-beat bass, that provides the backbone of the track, and is slightly disorientating. As the track beings to gather pace, with wonky bass....piercing keyboards, burst into the fray, and punctuating the unusual ambience, in the same way that a dramatic/suspenseful section, may play out on a movie soundtrack.
A decidedly more upbeat affair comes in the form of "Closed Shoulders", which is a superb take (or imitation of...) the sort of complex 'Glitch Hip-Hop', that has been pioneered by the likes of "Prefuse 73". Think stuttering bass, and beats that jittery and move like a wind-up toy, and coupled with the fractured tumbling bass, easily avoid any criticisms of reptition in the album, and although far less frantic and volatile than Prefuse's work. It's still a elaborate example of the Cut 'N' Paste techniques used by both producers.
One of the (very) few vocal tracks on this album, is provided by Leftfield/Alternative Lo-Fi Rapper "Buck 65", who impressively deploys his, warped sounding Lo-Fi raps over a mellowed percussion, and a confrontational sounding arrangement, that almost certainly references 'Horror' soundtracks to some degree, with the haunting strings and background choir harmonies, working to Chilling effect.
"U R Here" pitches perfectly a combination of complicated stuttering Drums, with a droning use of synths.....that feels slightly at odds with the drum patterns, but this is brought into sharp contrast with the lush use of a (Sampled??) orchestration overlayed, over all of this. It's a complicated set-up for sure, and one that given the instrumentation being used, in theory shouldn't work....but it does, and does brilliantly. Fans of the cerebral Post-Rock / Indie-electronica, IDM music of "Four Tet", will be well served by this track.
"Awaiting an accident" mixes a almost tinderbox/jewellery box Melody with African-tinged drums, that then manages to chuck in a combination of 70's styled guitars & Horns, with a melody popping in infrequently, for a truly bizarre fusion of sounds (if thought about individually), but sonically this is amongst the most ear catching of melodies, on the 13 tracks on this album.
Boom Bip, who is no stranger to the world of Leftifield/Alternative Hip-Hop, hooks up with the Anticon boys (in this case "Doseone") on "Mannequin Hand Trapdoor I Reminder", and easily recalls the exceptional work done on their collabration album "Cirlces". moody melancholic downtempo thick ambient swirls and hums, and plucked guitar with drifting bass, overlayed with Doseone's free associative lyrics, is a revelation. It's sounds like its a lost track from their exceptional "Circles" album, and remains as cutting edge now, as it sounded on "Circles" back then.
Obviously, this is an album more suited for those that know what to expect from this album. If you've been accustomed to the Avant-Garde Hip-Hop of the 'Anticon' label, or you're a keen fan of instrumental Hip-Hop (in this case warped Downtempo Hip-Hop), then you should find that find this a breath of fresh air. As it sounds so different and intelligent to what's currently floating around. There are those that will consider this album to be: "Hip-Hop music to fall asleep to", as there are no head-nodding beats, or chest-beating lyrics to get off on. Instead this is a slow, thoughtful and considered album, for those that like their electronica, as much as their Hip-Hop, as this is a beautiful intergration of both genres. And if your familiar (or more importantly a Fan), of: "Four Tet", "Dabrye", "Prefuse 73", "Blockhead" & "CLOUDEAD", then I can't recommend this minor classic, strongly enough to you.