Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Oh No - Dr. No's Ethiopium

Stones Throw beatmaker and younger brother of Madlib comes through with some solid hip-hop productions, which have been getting serious play in the old ipod as of late.

In the vein of Donuts or a Beat Konducta release, it’s a collection of instrumentals (36 to be exact) loosely assembled in mixtape fashion – basically a showcase for what Oh No’s been doing lately.

Like Dilla and his older bro, Mr. – excuse me – Dr No has that innate ability to make music that does a lot without doing much. His style’s lax, almost slapped together feel belies the kind of ability you can’t teach. No fancy techniques; no DSP trickery, just a good ear, an expansive collection of obscure records and a knack for flipping an oddball sample into a hot track.

From the West Indies to Africa; Central Asia to the far East and back to the American South and Motown; Ethiopium is riddled with sounds from across the globe. Chanting monks and sitars sit next to synthesizers and reggae horns; bluesy guitar riffing, Hammond organs. Vintage drums and the ambiance of well worn vinyl, make these beats snap and crackle with the savory grittiness that characterized the hip-hop of yore.

Madness starts with what sounds like a banjo stretched into a warped loop and then coupled with a fat analog bass line and some high pitched Dr. Dre-synths. The Funk achieves it's namesake with hand-clapped drums that stutter, a blaxploitation-style guitar sample and some funky-ass horns. Adventure is a simple idea made interesting with the addition of a backward snare, a tambourine, some cymbal crashes and cut up Bollywood vocals. The saxophone led Juke Joint is reminiscent of the kind jazzy boom-bap perfected by Greyboy.

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