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Friday, 24 March 2006
matthew dear - backstroke
Now Playing: herb alpert's tijuana brass - rewhipped
Topic: 2004 reviews (jul.-sep.)

i love Matthew Dear's work. this EP is a testament to his brilliance. experimental pop goodness, i tell you what.

Record label: Spectral Sound
Format: mini-LP/CD
Release date: July 2004

(Review originally posted to BSOTS website september of 2004)

You really have to admire Matthew Dear’s work ethic: he seems to have been releasing music consistently since the start of last year. What I don’t understand is how the quality has been able to match up with the quantity of his output. The tone was set with a pair of EPs in 2003 that focused on his minimal techno sessions. He was already getting recognition as one to watch; then he dropped “Dog Days” (the leadoff single for his debut album) and that’s when things really got interesting. A summer dance floor anthem if there ever was one, Dear held the ship steady while maneuvering through house and techno waters, riding the current of a catchy chorus. This would bring his vocal side to the forefront. The mini-album Backstroke picks up where Leave Luck to Heaven left off, albeit a heavier focus on Matthew’s vocal-led material. With a knack for creating unconventional pop tunes, the payoff is big, establishing him as possibly the next superstar in techno.

The music’s accessibility is due to its winning combination of new wave/synthpop song structures, unbridled dance floor energy, and Matthew’s capable vocal ability. Both “Tide” and “Grut Wall” sound as if they were crafted to be the blueprints for underground chart toppers. There’s nothing that these songs don’t possess: memorable and catchy lyrics, infectious grooves, and 100% genuine in its presentation. “Huggy’s Parade” plays with the formula a little bit, keeping the music minimal yet bouncy as Dear’s vocals sound like they were phoned in from another planet. “I Know Howser” slows things down to great effect, its somber and melancholy tone being a natural platform for Matthew’s chops to shine (techno’s first balladeer, maybe?). The showstopper comes in the form of “And In The Night” as Dear switches gears to deliver some midtempo disco from an alternate universe. Latin percussion loops and the repeated phrase “sometimes I think about you” get stirred into a wonderfully messy stew. Vocals bubble over the top of this mutant pop cauldron, somewhat disembodied yet still passionate. This track contains more twists and turns than San Francisco’s Lombard Street, making for a great closer to this release. Absolutely fantastic.

{steve crognale}

you can purchase this release at emusic.com or at bleep.com (see media player below).

Posted by macedonia at 4:35 PM EST
Updated: Friday, 24 March 2006 4:39 PM EST
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Thursday, 23 March 2006
so...did you notice the blog name change?
Now Playing: know your rights - radio show on eastvillageradio.com

"the number that you have reached, holy war in the mental, has been changed. the new number is...welcome to camp lo-fi... please make a note of it..."

it's high time, really. holy war in the mental has worked as a blog title for the past two years and change, but if you listen to my podcasts, you know that i've been using the tag line welcome to camp lo-fi as part of my introduction ever since they started. so that's the new title of the blog. the time was right for the change: i want the podcast and blog to compliment each other. at the same time, i'll be moving several years of rants and music reviews over here, a little bit at a time.

this is lifeblood for me, and i hope it holds some interest for you.

signed, macedonia (your friendly neighborhood camp counselor).

p.s. you can bookmark this url for the blog and podcast: http://www.bsots.com/restless/

Posted by macedonia at 4:36 PM EST
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a bit of podcast streaming business...
Now Playing: know your rights radio show (eastvillageradio.com)
Topic: my podcasts

as of now, anyone who wants to listen to the podcasts online can do so through my podsafe music network page. just go there and click on the "play show" button: a separate window will open up with its own media player. the most recent podcast will immediately start playing.

Posted by macedonia at 4:33 PM EST
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day to day
Now Playing: Know Your Rights on eastvillageradio.com
Topic: 2002 reviews (Jul.-Sep.)

show #15 led me to search the site for some reviews on Delsin releases. here's one for a great compilation of theirs that came out in 2002. be sure to check the media player to hear selections from this comp...

Day By Day
Record label: Delsin (The Netherlands)
Format: CD
Release date: 5 September 2002

(Review originally posted to BSOTS website September of 2002)

The last two years have been very good to the Delsin label. This small Dutch upstart has consistently put out quality releases focusing primarily on deep house and warm, soothing techno, but ultimately on electronic music with heart and soul. As a result, worldwide accolades have been pouring in, including the likes of Laurent Garnier, Kirk Degiorgio, and Carl Craig singing their praises. Their first CD compilation, …Going Thru Life, established an attitude of making music for the body, mind, and spirit, be it for the dance floor or the chill-out section. This follow-up collection of singles is sure to make all the Delsin fans without record players very happy. Just like the previous compilation, most if not all of these tracks were only previously available on vinyl.

Day By Day features artists from the UK, the Netherlands, and the United States. Matthew Puffett's contribution as Future Beat Alliance is very "Sweet" indeed, romantic techno that's also rhythmically engaging. Aardvarck, a mainstay of the Dutch techno scene, has made a name for himself with his breakbeat jazz compositions. "Doeda" is a great example of his production wizardry. Back home in the States is Delsin newcomer $tinkworx, whose "Todas Las Noches" is a downtempo house pleaser - perfect for the lounges. Underwater deep house grooves float to the surface courtesy of New World Aquarium ("Trespassers") and Peel Seamus a.k.a. Marsel Van der Wielsen (owner and founder of Delsin) is responsible for one of the most hypnotic and seductive tracks on this compilation ("Artemis"). Throw in a pair of songs from Detroit veteran Keith Tucker (appearing as Optic Nerve) as well as others from the label roster and it's another satisfying listen from this Dutch imprint. Let's hope that this label stays active for a long time - Delsin knows how to do it right.

{steve crognale}

Posted by macedonia at 3:57 PM EST
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ain't-chit history
Now Playing: know your rights (eastvillageradio.com)
Topic: 2004 reviews (oct.-dec.)

another review for a great Delsin Records release...

Ain't-Chit History
Record label: Delsin (The Netherlands)
Format: CD
Release date: 14 June 2004

(Review originally posted to the BSOTS website October of 2004)

Not too much is known about $tinkworx other than they are an NYC transplant currently residing in North Carolina. After releasing several vinyl singles for Delsin, it was definitely time for the CD massive to get theirs, which is where Ain’t-Chit History comes in. This collection offers a comprehensive look at $tinkworx’s catalog, some of which includes out of print singles from the Down Low and Bunker labels. When you hear the name $tinkworx, funky discofied house is probably the last sound you’d hear in your mind, but that’s exactly what they provide. “Whut” and “No Luv” are sample-happy tracks comparable to Daft Punk’s early period, but with a more polished sound. This is not to say that it’s better; it’s just that it doesn’t contain the same raw energy. $tinkworx singles are spit-shined jams designed to sound pristine with every listen.

There’s also an ample amount of techno on this comp, from the complex to the energetic. “Drexion Caves” and “Icing On the Bitch Ho” are fast-paced and frenzied compared to the other tracks, sounding like selections to be used as a street racing soundtrack for a Playstation 2 game. Meanwhile, “All Night Long” and “Todas Las Noches” are robust pieces of midtempo electronic soul. The former contains tiny samples slicing through the main theme while the latter wears pretty acid riffs like glitter. For the ultimate in $tinkworx sophistication, skip over to “Raise Up,” a song that can rival just about anything in the Environ Records catalog. Handclaps hold down the beat while jumpy bass lines and warm chords add substance to the groove. I’ve always thought of this artist as one of Delsin’s star attractions; hopefully this collection will lead others to $tinkworx and the Delsin label as a whole.

{cali ginseng}

Posted by macedonia at 3:54 PM EST
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Monday, 20 March 2006
american dreams (and personal realities)
Now Playing: the real estate agents - octivebyoctive (live)
Topic: rants de macedonia

spiritual warfare:  a self-portrait.  albany, ny, 1997.

[since we've hit the three-year anniversary mark of the u.s. invasion of iraq, i figured it was high time to dig this one up. if memory serves me correctly, i originally posted this to the BSOTS website around june of 2003. i was unemployed at the time, so i wrote about that as well as the war and other stuff that was plauging my brain at the time. out of all the rants i've written, this one still remains the high point in my humble opinion.]

american dreams (and personal realities)

One night in March of 2003, I was jolted out of bed by a series of blinding lights on my television screen. Squinting in order to get a better look at the bombs bursting in air and the rocket's red glare, I was informed that the jam of the month had hit the airwaves: Operation Iraqi Freedom (The Gulf War Remix). Number one with a M.O.A.B. on American charts, slated for heavy rotation until DJ Tommy Franks takes the needle off the record.

I saw the truth stare back at me from a comic strip. It depicted Donald Rumsfeld sitting in a chair, pants around his ankles, pleasuring himself while watching explosions on four televisions (each broadcasting a different news station). Edging ever closer to climax, he shouted, "Burn, baby, burn!"

Less than 12 hours after Michael Moore pisses off everyone at the Oscars, I stand in front of my TV set bewildered as Wayne Brady gives a rousing "Yay For America" monologue to a studio audience full of stone-faced White people...all of whom look as if they're just waiting for the good Negro to forget his place. Their fears are soon put to rest as he stands center stage, belting out a rendition of Lee Greenwood's "God Bless The U.S.A." And while I try not to dismiss it as another example of "shuck and jive" in the age of "shock and awe," I envision Manhattanville College basketball player Toni Smith standing before him in uniform, turning her back to this display of stars and stripes in song.

When Natalie Gilbert forgot the words to "The Star-Spangled Banner" at that Portland Trailblazers game, I left the room. I figured that if a blonde-haired, blue-eyed Dixie Chick could get their CDs steamrolled, watch their album sales plummet, and receive death threats along with significantly less airplay, there was no way that that thirteen year-old girl was going to make it out of there alive. Thankfully, it didn't end that way. Much love to Maurice Cheeks for stepping in and helping out a young damsel in distress. They sang it together. Twenty thousand fans joined in soon after. It was one of those uniquely American moments that you see on the big screen - everybody wins. So why wasn't I smiling? Because somewhere in that crowd, there was at least one person that stomped on a Dixie Chicks CD, won't frequent a French restaurant, and told even the most eloquent of war protesters to keep their big mouths shut.

I'll be honest: I had patriots to the right of me, protesters to the left of me, and both were getting on my nerves. Seems as if nothing in this country can be done without a subsection of the population taking actions to the furthest extreme possible. As a result, staged die-ins occurred every hour on the hour by every leftist organization known to man - a few of whom still hadn't figured out their own agenda yet or used the confusion as the perfect time to bitch about unrelated matters in the public eye. Meanwhile, on the other side of the argument, French cheese was thrown in the garbage, their wine ran like blood in the streets, and somewhere in America a star-spangled spud technician underneath the golden arches asked, "You want 'freedom fries' with that?" Apparently, turban surveillance wasn't enough: the United States decided to take up beret profiling as well.

The days soon began to run into each other, getting longer with each news report. Sandstorms against red clay made the Middle East look more like Mars. Comical Ali became the poster boy for positive thinking against all odds. A thousand dancers in Iraq collectively get their Fred Astaire on and did the liberation pogo atop the head of Saddam Hussein's statue. President Bush declares the war officially over on May first, but sniper bullets say otherwise. And as Operation Iraqi Freedom becomes Desert Scorpion, which then morphs into Haven Denial; as NBC works diligently to bring the made-for-TV movie Saving Jessica Lynch to a small screen near you; as the bodies of Uday and Qusay Hussein are paraded throughout the media as symbolic trophies for a bad-ass administration, I find myself on the front line back home, facing a common enemy...

One day in June, the skies opened up on New York State and a voice said, "Welcome to Seattle." Every weekend that month was a washout. The sun would show up regularly on Monday morning just to be spiteful, which ultimately means nothing if you're unemployed. While soldiers continue to feel the aftereffects of the war in Iraq, I (like so many millions of Americans) fight a war of economics. Nobody enlists for this war, you just get drafted one day. My draft date was January 31, 2003. Persecuted but not forsaken, cast down but not destroyed, my days are spent in attempts to master the art of being noticed. Caught in the vicious cycle of research-apply-reject, playing craps with keywords in cyberspace on company websites, I aspire to crack the code that triggers an acknowledgement of my existence.

I have recently renamed New York: welcome to CLUB DARWIN. "Survival of the fittest" is the only door policy. Nobody wants to frequent this place, but too many of us end up there through no fault of our own. And no matter how crowded the joint gets, it never seems to fill to capacity. There's always room for one more. Price of admission: pride, ego, tears, self esteem, whatever the NYPD decides to fine you for that day...the management's not picky.

A pivotal quote from a bishop's sermon has become the underlying theme to my dry season: "I don't care how holy you think you are, everybody has a breaking point. Pressure reveals character." Nowadays, these sentiments are more valid than ever. The pressures of everyday life have grown to a point where even those within their right minds have no problems doing the wrong thing. Given the right circumstances, we all could do what we said we'd never do. In desperate times such as these, never say never. At the end of the day, you just might.

Pressure will make a man bold enough to rob a bank or an armored car because they're tired of being thirty cents away from having a quarter. Pressure will make a woman beat a man to death with a high-heeled shoe because all she wanted was to be loved, but got lies instead. Pressure will make a soldier in Iraq say (on national television), "If Rumsfeld were here, I'd ask for his resignation," or off themselves before the snipers get to them first. The line between you and the extremist is frighteningly thin and in a world of extremes, we're all being pushed to the limit. So don't be so quick to judge whoever's being dragged away in handcuffs on the evening news; that person's liable to show up in your mirror someday...

I step off the number four train to be greeted by camouflage figures, machine guns in plain view by their sides, casually talking amongst themselves. It's a sight that I still haven't grown used to. I make my way towards an apartment complex near the FDR Drive for the only interview I've had since being laid off. While it went great, it raised as many questions in my mind as it answered. Afterwards, I sit by the waterside: the calm of the waves before me, the hustle and bustle of automobiles behind me. I began to ponder the struggles between the spirit and the flesh, working for personal fulfillment versus working to pay the bills, and the sobering reality that my life was never meant to be lived for myself.

A situation named "No Win" stares me in the face, a thug mug worn by countless hard rocks on any given day, Timberland boots laced and ready to leave prints on my face. Situation asks, with arms folded, "So now what?" I respond with silence, looking past a worse case scenario to watch motorboats carve through the Hudson River. The sun's rays make the waves glisten and sparkle like precious jewels, each one representing the hopes, dreams, and aspirations of a sea of survivors that have yet to be fulfilled.

{jason randall smith}

Posted by macedonia at 4:40 PM EST
Updated: Monday, 20 March 2006 4:51 PM EST
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Tuesday, 14 March 2006
that which brings you back to you...
Now Playing: solace...several states away from home...

"peace: it does not mean to be in a place where there is no noise, trouble, or hard work. it means to be in the midst of those things and still be calm in your heart." -unknown.

to the left of me is a pool, sunlight glistening through the ripples of the water. there is a dog named max, unbelievably loyal and persistent for grabbing attention, nudging your hand when they want to be pet. there is a cat named keisha, a sweet siberian feline with long hair, orange and white. she kills lizards in her spare time, thereby proving that it's the quiet ones you have to watch out for. there are beautiful houses on waterfront property and several beaches within close driving distance of each other. and there is my wonderful wife, 3.5 months pregnant with child, glowing and happy, away from the madness of her morning commute, if only for a week.

i feel the same. i was in the midst of media overload - email, myspace, and otherwise - that would cause heart palpitations to start. never mind the job which is taking a year off of my life for every month that i spend there.

beth and i are currently in englewood, fl visiting her aunt and uncle. perhaps the most vivid memory so far is the sunset of siesta beach, watching the sun kiss the horizon and slowly disappear while a drum circle occurs opposite the vivid colors of the sky. men, women, and children of all ages inside the circle dancing and having fun.

i'm experiencing a peace that i have not felt since my honeymoon - cancun, november of 1999. it feels good. and i don't even care that it's going to end on friday. that doesn't even matter to me. just the fact that i took a real vacation this time, not time off from the job to get chores done around the house, but time off to shut down, to detox, to not think about anything, or at other times to consider the possibilities about my life, my career, and how to make things happen for the better.

i'm happy right now. and i'm sure that monday (along with the customers and the co-workers) will do everything it can to rip the happiness away from me. so what? that's what it was designed to do. all i know is that when my feet touch down in new york state, the project to reinvent myself careerwise must commence. and in the meantime, remind myself what's good about myself and what's really important in life. this vacation is bringing all of that into focus.

don't wait for things to be perfect to reenergize: you'll be waiting forever. do it as soon and as often as you can. life is filled with parasites of many forms, all of them fighting for the chance to suck away your lifeblood first. the least you can do for yourself is to get away for a moment's peace. since the world is relentless in trying to take your joy away from you, doesn't it make sense to be just as relentless in finding ways to keep it?

news flash: that's not selfish. that's a SURVIVAL TACTIC.

"people in life who are the happiest don't have the best of everything...
they make the best of everything they have."
- quote on aunt angie's computer monitor.

Posted by macedonia at 12:09 PM EST
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Wednesday, 8 March 2006
strung out
Now Playing: monica's radio show on wfmu
Topic: rants de macedonia

homework quandary.  fall of '98.

[this rant represents the first one i wrote regarding the season of Lent and was originally published in ON THE VERGE v1.0 e-mail monthly on April 7, 1999. believe it or not, i gave up music for Lent one year. while my rules aren't nearly this strict as of late, i still continue with the idea of no music purchases between Ash Wednesday and Easter Sunday.]

strung out

Vic just shook his head in disbelief. "You have GOT to be kidding me." But my mind was mind up. This was something that I had to do for myself.

Ash Wednesday had arrived and my mom called me at work to remind me. She asked me what I was going to give up for Lent. I didn't know. When I thought about it, however, I knew what I had to do.

Some give up meat or cigarettes. Others alcohol or swearing. I knew that whatever I decided to give up had to be a real sacrifice for me. That's when it hit me: music. My strung out junkie-like addiction to music would be the very thing.

I always have music playing no matter what I'm doing, so this was going to be a challenge. And as much as I use music for therapeutic purposes, I use it as a diversion and a tool of procrastination often. One ought not to abuse music like that (or deceive themselves, for that matter). So I made up some rules to follow for six days out of the week. Sundays were the obvious exemption. Here's what I came up with:

    This excluded anything I had ordered prior to Ash Wednesday and any promotional items that I occasionally receive. I had to do this - I was buying music like I didn't have to pay rent for a while.
    The only exceptions were two parties during March that I committed to before Ash Wednesday.
    That's very little for me. Time would be extended only if I were reviewing an album for OTV or dubbing some music for a friend. This way, I'd be concentrating on someone else's wants and not my own.
Upon hearing all of this, a friend of mine scolded me. "THAT'S JUST MEAN TO DO TO YOURSELF!!" Perhaps. But I did spin two gigs and when I wasn't reviewing stuff for OTV, I did other things…like READ!!! There were books that I hadn't picked up in a while that I really got into during the Lent period.

I also got confirmation on the fact that music doesn't have to be constantly all around me. Every day brings a different soundtrack in my head. I make up techno tracks at work around the busy signals of fax machines trying to send something to Finland. And at home I got reacquainted with pieces of wax that I hadn't heard in a while, and usually ended up saying "damn, I've been sleeping on THIS?!?"

And GOD replied, "see? Why are you in such a rush to get more? RE-EXAMINE WHAT YOU HAVE."

And I did. And I am thankful.

So with that, I encourage you to dig up something you haven't heard in ages. You may hear it with a different ear this time and catch something that you haven't heard before.

"what we gonna do right here is go back…WAYBACK…back into time…"

{jason randall smith}

Posted by macedonia at 2:50 PM EST
Updated: Wednesday, 8 March 2006 2:52 PM EST
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BSOTS 015 - blends session one: house and techno
Now Playing: peace and quiet...
Topic: my podcasts

figured i'd offer up a breather in between the black history and women's herstory shows with some body movin' material. i think i may do shows like this every now and again where it's more music, less talk, and in a continous mix fashion. this time, it's electronic dance music from various corners of the world: nyc, seattle, ireland, the netherlands, taiwan, and other areas. ezekiel's contribution ("hibernate") is at least four years old now and was never actually released, but i think it's a pivotal piece in his career, one that led him to producing the type of material he currently creates for microcosm music and other labels. shades of this work actually pop up in a netlabel track called "the breeze of hibernation," which you can get here.

i also love the fact that i got permission from kranky for out hud (a kick-ass band featuring members of !!!) and from the delsin label for two of their artists. i absolutely love delsin. i think they make smart, seductive electronic dance music that never gets old. in my humble opinion, they are to the netherlands what carl craig's planet e communications label is to the united states.

and as far as jonny sonic is concerned, they're blowing my mind right now. their album hasn't dropped yet, but it's already in the running for a best of 2006 slot from me, for real. guard your grills, kids - it's about to get ill. anyway, hope you enjoy this one. let me know what you think.

download ||| subscribe

add to my PodNova

$tinkworx*whut (buy it at bleep.com)
ezekiel honig*hibernate (unreleased track)
peel seamus*artemis (buy it at bleep.com)
steffen coonan*the grooveatron
out hud*one life to leave (a requiem for a requiem) (buy it at kranky.net)
moshang*soli (get it at soundclick.com)
miguel tutera*fatal error (download the entire EP here)
jonny sonic*medicine

background music:
instruction shuttle*2ml

Posted by macedonia at 12:43 AM EST
Updated: Tuesday, 28 March 2006 5:53 PM EST
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Tuesday, 7 March 2006
Adventures in Lo-Fi...
Now Playing: office noise...
Topic: 2003 reviews (Apr.-Jun.)

time to start revisitng some of the reviews that have built up over the years. seeing as how i constantly say "welcome to camp lo-fi" during the introductions of each podcast, this album has earned a spot in my heart. check out the player below to hear selections from this album...

Adventures In Lo-Fi
Record label: BBE/Rapster
Format: 2xLP/CD/MP3
Release date: 25 March 2003

(Review originally posted to BSOTS website April of 2003)

“The Beat Generation” series has been (more often than not) one spectacular album after another, allowing producers like Jaydee, Pete Rock, Jazzy Jeff, and DJ Spinna to do what they feel. This time around, it’s King Britt’s turn to shoot the gift. Things have moved fast and furious for this former silkworm that tagged the tables for Digable Planets in the early ‘90s. The Sylk 130 project quickly made him an international sensation, producing the ‘70s tinged When The Funk Hits The Fan and the ‘80s nostalgic Re-Members Only. His latest journey is decidedly different, however, and rooted in present-day urban electronics and future soul. Adventures In Lo-Fi affirms King Britt’s understanding of the ever-changing nature of black music.

Special guests are in full force on this album - a crowded affair, but never an uncomfortable one. MCs all up in the spot, of course. Bahamadia shines lovely on “Transcend,” proving she’s still one of the smoothest in the game. Brother Britt crafts a potent beat underneath, a hip-hop/R&B hybrid that doesn’t leave a bad aftertaste. “Cobbs Creek” from Re-Members Only gets revisited on the remix tip. It was over ten years ago that Pos and Trugoy clowned on the hip-house craze with “Kicked Out The House” from their De La Soul Is Dead album. Yet here they are straight rhyming dead center underneath the disco ball, beats simmering to a midtempo house resemblance. The roller skating jam strikes again. A number of less familiar cats make their presence felt on the mic, particularly Moses Gunn (“About Face”) and Will Brodie (“Apollo Creed”). Then there’s Britt’s long-time homie Capital A trying too hard to be hard on “Caught Out (There),” but I ain’t mad at him...especially since the rhyme flow and beat structure work so well. Still, he’s more at home on “Next Plateau,” throwing out his best lines for the ladies.

Soul sisters also represent for the lo-fi ride, most notably Ivani Sanitilli on “Superstar” and Sylk 130 collaborator Alma Horton (here as Lady Alma) on “Love’s Time.” The finest moments on this album are saved for spoken word artist Rich Medina. Shades of Gil Scott-Heron can be heard in his social commentary - both “Planetary Analysis” and “A Foreigner No Longer” are phenomenal. I could mention star appearances from Dice Raw (The Roots), Madlib as Quasimodo, Cherrywine featuring Butterfly of Dig Plans fame, but I think the point’s been made. Adventures In Lo-Fi continues the high standard within “The Beat Generation” series and for producer King Britt. Sometimes a soundtrack for head nodders, sometimes dance floor friendly, sometimes sounding like the Motherland on Mars. All hail the King.


Posted by macedonia at 4:11 PM EST
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