Tuesday, 20 October 2009

REVIEW: The Slew - 100%

The Slew - 100%
Label: Ninjatune
Release date: 24/11/09

...and then for his third effort DJ Shadow released The Outsider, at which the majority of his fans breathed in sharply through their teeth and released a collective, "Really?" At the time, Shadow is quoted as saying: "Repeat Endtroducing over and over again? That was never, ever in the game plan. Fuck that. I think it's time for certain fans to decide if they are fans of the album, or the artist." I think we all know what the collective decision was.

A couple of years later and Shadow was back with his old partner in crime, Cut Chemist, touring The Hard Sell, the latest of their collaboration records. Opening for them on these shows they had Kid Koala, the Montreal turntablist who has the pleasure of a Bjork and Radiohead name-drop when it comes to people he's opened for.

A couple of years before this jaunt around the US with two of the world's most respected turntabalists, Kid Koala started working on a rock record with Dynomite D, longtime shoulder-rubber with the Beastie Boys. The pair, who met on the Beasties Boys tour in 1998, had been approached to soundtrack a documentary feature film. The film was eventually abandoned, but with Mario C (Beastie Boys Engineer/Producer) on board for mixing, D and Koala were already deep into the psych rock-influenced score and there was no turning back.

To complete the project, D and Koala teamed up with Chris Ross and Myles Heskett, the rhythm section of Wolfmother (yes, of Woman! fame), and The Slew were formed. The result is a melting pot of psych blues riffs, turntable gymnastics and sample wizardry. The beats and samples on offer ooze with the teachings and influence of classic DJ Shadow, Cut Chemist and Mix Master Mike, and the sleazy, fuzz-drenched bass lines and blues guitars are everything you'd expect from the over the top rock excess of Wolfmother. On paper it sounds horrible. In reality it's quite special.

Opening with its title track, the first thing to hit your ears on 100% is a high pitched wail which is somewhere between James Brown and Robert Plant. Enter a scratchy guitar riff dripping in bluesy rock-n-roll; the riff plays cat and mouse games with a turntable; and then in comes the bass line to get appreciative heads nodding and chins stroking. This is straight up B
laxploitation rock-n-soul. Slip this on some headphones and take a walk: you'll be 100 miles high as the most street walkin', jive talkin', coolest cat in, er, West Hampstead? It's this opening mix of breaks, blues and samples that sets up the whole album.

The Grinder
 is a bass-driven acid soul groove, Shackled Soul's frenetic break beat and guitar freakout morphs into a guitar solo reminiscent of Van Halen's Eruption battling with a turntable, and You Turn Me Cold has a grimey cock rock riff. Southeast Solilioquay slows things down by taking a Delta Blues sample and applying a thick sheen of hip-hop filth. Album highlight Battle Of Heaven & Hell is all sinister high note strings, osculating phasing and haunted spoken word samples. The album reveals shades of The Free Association and UNKLE along with early Stones and Zeppelin. It's a myriad of competing styles and reference points that somehow manage to gel.

After touring the record and selling limited copies at shows, demand has grown so much that it's soon to see a release proper via Ninjatune. However, if you're quick you can download the whole thing for free here. The download link is set to self destruct on November 1st so think fast. Of course we'll all be putting in an order for the double-vinyl to pour over the samples and gain credibility.
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1 comment:

  1. This is a great album - Led Zep Hip Hop if you want a soundbite. Further listening - check out New Kingdom's "Heavy Load" (If you can find it) - 1993 hip hop along the same kind of idea.