Artist: Cut ChemistTitle: The Audience's ListeningRating: 3 StarsReviewed by: Jessica Dufresne
There's no clear way to categorize Cut Chemist or his album. DJ and producer for Jurassic 5, DJ at various L.A. venues, turntabalist for Latin band Ozomatli, and of course vinyl collector, this man has spent nearly 20 years busy doing everything but his own album. Now solo, the L.A. native has finally recorded his very own long-overdue record, The Audience's Listening (Warner Bros.), a sonically diverse, sometimes "out there" journey through the creative mind of a man for whom music is obviously a tool.
First off, this is not your typical DJ/Producer-makes-an-album project, nor is it necessarily a Hip-Hop album, although rooted in it. All kinds of other genres are explored here as showcased in "Metrorail Thru Space", an aptly titled trippy house/trancesounding instrumental featuring all kinds of sounds. Cut Chemist's world travels are evidenced in "The Garden", a guitar-driven foray into perhaps a lush musical landscape somewhere in Brazil, where it was recorded. Complete with a woman singing in Portuguese, you might get lost in the beauty of it all and forget that this is sort of a Hip-Hop record until the faint scratches and commanding drums come in. "Spoon" is an oddity of bass and electric guitars combined with a head-nodding drum loop along with random vocals thrown in. It stands out, though, as "that funky song" on the album you could easily hear someone rhyming over. And in what can only be lamely described as totally cool, the song "Spat" is, when you pay close attention, not just Cut Chemist scratching all willy-nilly, but an actual argument between two "people" represented as scratches. It sounds weird, but it's actually pretty creative. You hear a phone being dialed, then he scratches what sounds like a "hello", and what follows is a back-and-forth (scratched) conversation that escalates into frantic scratching symbolizing an argumentall set to a bouncing jazzy piano.
Rappers do make appearances in case you forgot this was something like a Hip-Hop album, however, Chemist keeps it light with only Mr. Lif, Edan, and Hymnal rocking the mic.
The Audience's Listening sounds like a labor of love with its complex, eclectic mash-up of sounds, and you can guess that Cut Chemist made the album with that title in mind. Now, he can only hope that audience is open and patient enough to agree to come along on this sonic adventure.