Two very long overdue albums managed to find store shelves recently…we’re graced with Felix da Housecat‘s Virgo Blaktro and the New Movie Disco (10/2/07 release date) and edIT‘s Certified Air Raid Material (9/18/07)
For Felix, it was his first non-mixtape style release since Devin Dazzle and the Neon Fever, which was only, oh, 3 years ago (5/25/04). For edIT, the wait was about the same. His lone solo album Crying Over Pros for No Reason came out two weeks earlier than Devin Dazzle in ’04, but was far more painful for his listeners (what handful of them there are) due to the fact that unlike Felix, he didn’t have multiple mix albums and guest appearances, but only a handful of remixes (such as his remix of Mos Def’s track Sunshine and contributions to the Baby Godzilla and Autonomous Addicts compilations) relegated to the basement of iTunes singles bought only by those actually looking for them.
Oh that comment? Don’t mind that, it’s just bitterness at iTunes overselling and hyping of already popular and well known artists through featured artists and free singles of the day. It’s almost like giving you a free coffee sample to get you to come back and buy triple non-fat no foam no whip pumpkin spice lattes everyday. Like an addiction of caffeine and pop music forced down your throat and into your ears until you can’t do anything but feed the monkey while listening to the new Nickleback single on your Starbucks iTunes hooked up iPod. It’s like an evil empire. Starbucks and Apple should team up and try to control the minds of the masses. Oh. Wait. That’s right, they have. Keep your wits about you, people. The only safe triple non-fat no foam no whip pumpkin spice latte is a triple decaf non-fat no foam no whip pumpkin spice latte. Or maybe it’s a half double decaf half caf with a twist of lemon? And the only safe new single from Souljah Boy is the one you don’t download. Really people…superman dat ho? After how many years of rap and hip-hop, that’s the best we can do? With the rap songs on the radio, my song with the chorus, “that’s the way my dick likes to fuck” is getting more and more likely to be a bona fide radio smash.
But, credit where credit is due…iTunes also allows us to avoid buying full albums containing songs we don’t really need or want (depending on your taste of course), thereby making the job of reviewing the albums much easier. Of course, with smaller artists, it unfortunately doesn’t go without saying now that you have to support and buy the full album. This has been a public service announcement from a music lover.
First up, edIT. Not enough people know about this guy and I don’t want y’all to read about big bad Felix and then leave before edIT gets his due. I first heard this guy from another DJ that worked at KSCR who had a show called Robot Music. For those that like to genrefy music (i.e. MMMers, iPod junkies, radio disc jockies) he holds elements of IDM (Intelligent Dance Music), folktronica, experimental in one sense of the word (computer music) but, in my personal estimation, he’s mostly Glitch. Of course his styles can be pieces of all of these…but if I have to give someone on the street one of them, I’ll go with Glitch. Of course, this is the label edIT himself prefers as he associates himself with the Glitch Mob, a group of performers in LA.
This album pretty much bangs from start to finish. For those that know Crying Over Pros for No Reason, this one is a major change in tempo and motif. Gone are the melodic, drifting pieces that can inspire both dancing and melancholy reflection all at once. Here he has moved away from pieces that you would almost want to call introspective from his first album, to be replaced with club tracks and glitch-hop pieces that take the mastery over sound that edIT has crafted in his music and shoot it up forcefully with steroids. The result is a grouping of cuts that you could imagine pounding in any club, but manage to sound very different from the Top Pop 40 Radio dance cuts we’ve gotten all too used to. He also brings in The Grouch for a few cuts.
He starts the album off with an intro that calls into question the very answer of genre I was attempting to provide above. When asked how he would describe his music to people on the street, there is no answer, just a quick cut to the opening track “Battling Go-Go Yubari in Downtown LA” which thumps with a stop and pop beat laced with blips and glitches. When it hits the bridge and he mixes in a snippet of Japanese, the cut returns deeper and with an extra vocal sample. The “Artsy Remix” with the Grouch can be a tad grating at times, though it still retains a bounce and swagger that make it more original than In Da Club or Smack That. The title track, “Certified Air Raid Material” backs off the momentum a bit, but keeps you moving in a forward direction with stop and go moments that greatly accentuate the glitch beauty edIT employs. “Night Shift” is a bit too pedestrian for my tastes, sounding too close to a Prefuse 73 remix or a slightly out there radio cut.
The first half of the album ends with “Straight Heat” a cut that reminds one of the closing track from Def Jam Poetry. It feels like there should be some vocals here, but the cut is a heavy hitting instrumental. In the second half, the Grouch featuring “Back Up Off the Floor, pt 2” keeps the tempo of the album heavy and provides a great backdrop for the grimy start and stop of Grouch’s flow. “Fire Riddim” sees edIT attempting to infuse some slight world flavor into the predominately glitch-hop based beats of the album. The album wraps up with “If You Crump Stand Up” a track that leaves you unsure whether you want to dance or just sit there and bob your head. Following that, the album concludes with “Crunk de Gaulle” an interesting piece that mixes parts of the peaceful and cut up rifts that made Cry Me a River popular for Timberlake and Timbaland with parts similar to the Jay-Z/Linkin Park mash-ups and has both English and French vocalists on it.
As edIT explains in the outro, the name of the album comes from the idea that war and bombing in our current global situation has grown out of control. “We don’t need any more bombs. Period. What we need is more bombs out on the dance floor.” The album was created to help people jam out on the dance floor and find their release there. I believe it succeeds.
To be honest, the Felix cd, after waiting three years for it, is a tad disappointing. Out of the 16 tracks on the album, I bought 7 of them. This of course excludes the 4 tracks that are intros or interludes and clock in under a minute. The songs I didn’t buy included: Radio, Sweetfrosti, I Seem 2b The1, Lookin’ My Best, and Tweak. For Felix, this album marks a definitive step away from the rock and electroclash fueled dance songs of previous albums and attempts to walk closer to the 80s electronic pop sound and certainly 70s discolounge.
“Future Calls the Dawn” is a pretty standard Felix cut that walks the line between laid back 2 am sidewalk fare that will keep you moving and the dancehall you just left from. It’s main downfall is that at 6 and a half minutes, it gets a bit repetitive. Felix again falls back on his standard practice of mixing in synthesized vocals, but not many people know how to do it better, so he saves himself a bit there. “NightTripperz” is a beat best suited for a late car ride or late night lounge session. The song is a mix of the memories of 80s cuts such as those slipped into Scarface and the Vice City video game and a slow Felix. Half dancepop, half dreamscape. “It’s Your Move” brings some distinct synthesized guitar licks over an upbeat and decidedly disco beat, complete with back up female vocals to augment the once again synthesized main voice. One begins to wonder where he samples or creates these from, and whether or not he ever uses his own voice.
“Monkey Cage” brings back a very familiar Felix sound in a slower tempo with alternating blips and beeps over a sparse background. It’s most reminiscent of Runaway Dreamer, but moves slower and doesn’t have the verses to break up the almost monotonous sound. “It’s Been a Long Time” ups the tempo of Monkey Cage a bit, and one can almost see it as a club track if a DJ upped the tempo a few notches more. It goes gracefully into a brief instrumental section that fades back into the chorus to end the song. But at 2:24, it certainly feels like he could have done more with the skeleton of this song. “Like Something For Porno” is the most upbeat track on the cd, using a quick tempo mixed with hand claps and a lead female vocalist. It moves with an urgency that Monkey Cage and It’s Been a Long Time lack to a certain extent, but the chorus, again, is a bit too repetitive, even for someone like Felix that makes a habit of repetitive choruses. But the background melodies laced over the steady beat keep this one alive, though it almost falters when the background singers come in with some chants that could have been left in the leisure suit days. Finally, “MovieDisco” is a slow plodder with heavy and deep synthesizers and bass lines. This one brings to mind certain elements of Tangerine Dream of the 80s and their work for the Risky Business soundtrack. All in all, these tracks are good additions to the Felix collection, but they don’t particularly strive forward to break any new ground for the artist, nor do they harness the raw emotional dance appeal of “Madame Hollywood” “Silver Screen Shower Scene” or the oddly haunting melodies of “Marine Mood.”