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Review: Pitch Black The Pitch Black Insperience

Label: Solidarity

Pitch Black-a.k.a. Kamau Bakari, a champion slam poet and former Kemetic priesthood trainee-matches his verbal skills against Rob J.'s original beats on the Pitch Black Insperience, and rarely has the ghetto griot ethos been spelled out so plaintively. Bakari takes rap back to its raw, primal essence, with 20+ tracks of spoken word imagery, turf sensibility and spiritual philosophy. Resisting any temptation to bling-one song is called "Can't Glamorize"-P. Bleezy doesn't hesitate to dis his mama's "slave religion" in the liner notes. Read more » 

Review: Ivan Smaghe How to Kill the DJ Part One

Label: Tigersushi

Paris club Le Pulp hosts Kill the DJ nights on the first Thursday of each month, and if this CD (arranged/mixed by DJ Ivan Smagghe) is a true indication of their musical policy, it sounds like a lot of fun. When the opening fun house cut, Roger's tributary "Helsinki Blondes" segues so naturally with Captain Comatose's Afrobeat-channeling "Wonderkidd," there's an immediate sense that this isn't your average club-branded compilation, but one with a wide-ranging musical ear. Read more » 

Review: Baron Effortless Chic

Label: Trouble on Vinyl

Oxford's Baron unleashes another scorcher in this title track, which dances old-school analog chaos-computer bleeps over a hard, funky rhythm and simplified bassline. The flip's "School Disco" offers buzzy synths over another sharp beat without getting sloppy, making this one a double-A killer. Read more » 

Review: Various Artists The Rough Guide to the Asian Underground

Label: Rough Guides

One glance at the tracklisting and you might think, "Where the hell is Talvin Singh?" But after reading seven pages of liner notes, you learn that he's Mahatma T, whose tablatronic "Jihad" is included. The disc opens with the late Ananda Shankar's "Streets of Calcutta," a precursor to later Bollywood crossovers, while Asian Dub Foundation, TJ Rehmi and Mo Magic stand out by repping the d&b camp solidly. If a bit unfocused, the disc is a good primer, but probably not the best bet for those who remember when these beats were still hot from the tandoori oven. Read more » 

Review: Tom Noble S/t

Label: Laws of Motion

One hopes the non-mainstream dance music scene isn't too awash in bullshit quotidian business concerns to recognize a talent like Tom Noble when he's in its face. On this debut released by the erstwhile nu-jazz imprint Laws of Motion, the 25-year-old producer has fully fleshed out a uniquely catholic aesthetic, folding modern Brazilian, South Asian and broken beat flavors in a dubwise ideology that enhances rather than dilutes the context of each. Read more » 

Review: Ghetto Priest Vulture Culture

Label: On.U

On.U posse front man and brooding lyricist Ghetto Priest lets forth on this deep debut, pairing his dark lyrics and soulful delivery with Adrian Sherwood's swirling production. Bubbly dubs here, hard-edged distorted guitar there, roots stylee at one moment, dancehall boasts at another. Priest sings mournful chants against Babylon on cuts like "Earthquake in the Heart of Rome," and then backs the impossibly fast lyrical jabs by Irish chatter RiRa and the bassy bark of Simon Bogle. Read more » 

Review: Massive Attack Special Cases

Label: Giant Step

Don't know whose idea it was to release such a decidedly tech-house 12" for the first single off the middling 100th Window, but I'm not complaining. L'uomo makes like Herbert on pop, while Akufen gives you the reason to purchase: a searing, 10-minute broken-beat odyssey. Read more » 

Review: Gavouna Warm Industry EP

Label: Melodic

Greek Athanasios Argianas studied visual art until he fell in with a student of Xenakis and Berio. On Warm Industry, he's made dusty piano and analog synth vignettes that sound like Boards of Canada remixing Erik Satie and Morton Subotnick at GRM. Somehow anciently modern, and perhaps even peerless. Read more » 

Review: Jaga Jazzist Animal Chin EP

Label: GSL

Culling three songs from the Norwegian nine-piece post-jazz collective's excellent Smalltown Supersound debut, with two exclusive tracks and two remixes (courtesy drummer Martin Horntveth and field-recording fetishist Kim Hiorthoy), this EP goes down chilly like tropical cocktails in a ski chalet with John Barry, Deodato, Stevie Wonder and Tortoise. A crisp Alpine mindfuck. Read more » 

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