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 El-P - Weareallgoingtoburninhell-megamixxx3 [2010] 
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Post  El-P - Weareallgoingtoburninhell-megamixxx3 [2010]
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Somewhere in the 10 years between Company Flow'snbsp;Funcrusher Plus and his previous solo record,nbsp;I'll Sleep When You're Dead, El-P's production style snapped its leash. Not like it was all that tightly restricted in the first place-- his late-90s/early-00s worknbsp;knocked with dread but included both hardcore hip-hop breaks andnbsp;glitchy squalls. Still, his work's gotten to the point where it can take a longtime fan about 10 seconds to recognize one of his new beats,nbsp;and another 10 seconds to hear something fresh in his approach. More than 15 years after Company Flow's first single, El-P's ability to maintain a recognizable style while still staying restless has kept his work interesting. (That, and his tendency to do things like his deranged, spur-of-the-moment Justin Bieber remix.)

Weareallgoingtoburninhellmegamixxx3 subsequently catches El-P doing something that suits his talents in an unexpected way: the mixed beat tape. The previous two volumes of this series were comprised largely of outtakes and unreleased material, heavy on the vocal tracks that showcased his hectic, often unhinged lyricism. But this one's more of an instrumental showcase, something that strings together experimental asides, self-contained pieces, and pre-established material into something resembling a sonic arc. He's had plenty of experience concocting beats meant to stay voiceless-- including CoFlow's unmixed 1999 release Little Johnny From the Hospitul and some of his compositions for the movie Bomb the System a few years later-- so it's not unprecedented.

But it is pretty notable, and skeptics who are traditionally either turned off by El's motormouth flow or take his production for granted have much to learn from this. El's soundtracking sensibility is what keeps much of Megamixxx3's momentum going, and even the short tracks don't run in place too long before cutting to new ideas. There's some cinematic allusions, like how "Whores: the Movie" sweats out hissing waveform faux-brass like his own mutation of David Shire's score for The Taking of Pelham One Two Three, or when tracks like "Time Won't Tell" and "He Hit Her So She Left" slowly build in intensity like they were tailor-made for suspense sequences. And the pieces that go past the three-minute mark-- the horror-funk "Meanstreak (In 3 Parts)"; the spaghetti Western "Drunk With a Loaded Pistol"; the electro panic attack "How to Serve Man (Stripped)"-- have the feel of tonally shifting miniature suites.

Megamixxx3 originated as a blended amalgam of discarded ideas, so it's to El-P's credit that he was able to wrangle all this into a more-or-less consistent and substantial work. As weird as he gets, there's always a core of hip-hop fundamentals at the center of his music-- hell, there's even a Zapp break tucked away in there somewhere. And in the midst of a long career working his way around monster jeep beats, old-school headknock breaks, and dystopian analog concoctions, he's made fitting it all together sound easy. It helps that he's gotten a lot of mileage out of a few distinctly dense synthesizer tones-- we're a long way from that tinny little three-note "Vital Nerve" riff-- that give his tracks a signature buzz. But it's clear here that his real production strength is his drum programming, which builds off complex patterns and then lets them scatter and shift into elastic detours. A scrapyard curiosity of a bonus track, the eight and a half minute "Eat My Garbage 2", consists of all the isolated drum breaks from the record; it's not much of a song, but it makes a convincing case that El-P knows how to put a loop together like a motherfucker.

There are a couple of known quantities sewn into the mix-- instrumentals for his remixes of Young Jeezy's "I Got This" and Kidz in the Hall's "Driving Down the Block"-- as well as a memorably bizarre excursion into new wave lounge-Ramp;B, "Contagious Snippet", a collaboration with Chin Chin's Wilder Zoby that evokes the neon-noir scores for Thief and Blade Runner. These tracks reinforce that this album is more of a Frankenstein's monster than a preview of El-P's future direction. But whilenbsp;Weareallgoingtoburninhellmegamixxx3 had all the indications of starting out as a stopgap project to stave off between-album downtime, it wound up being a solid exhibition of his chops. Even when the man appears to be just dicking around in his parts bin, he can still dredge up great music.












Published on 2010-8-14 12:55pm GMT

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15 Aug 2010, 12:11
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