Roll Call

Cleaning out the inbox yields interesting results

Various Artists, Attitude (Tigerbeat 6 Records): A tribute to NWA released on the (useless) boutique format of choice these days, the 3-inch CD, Attitude consists of paeans to the influential Compton gangstas NWA (Dr. Dre, Ice Cube, Eazy-E and MC Ren). The "tribute" was put out on digital terrorist Kid 606's Tigerbeat 6 imprint and features contributions from one tiny corner of the electronic-music world, one that is commonly referred to as IDM (intelligent dance music), a tag that basically means artists who "transcend" a reliance on steady beat. Guh. The result is digital noise, stretched NWA samples, blast-furnace wind sprints and very very very little beauty. Even Compton has beauty, and anger can produce it -- NWA displayed that. But little is pretty within Attitude; it seems more a heartless exercise, and although the itsy-bitsy CD has moments of bliss -- most notably Matmos' little sample stunt, Hrvatski's quickie beat breakdown (the closest thing to beauty on the disc) and Kid 606's introductory, elastic cover of "Straight Outta Compton" -- most of these artists (also including V/VM, Christoph De Babalon, Pure, Lesser and Cex, among others) don't seem to understand or appreciate Straight Outta Compton. If it's "the thought that counts," well, then, great, this is fine. If you're really hoping for music that will make you happy and take you to that secret place, try the Mount Florida releases above.

Suba, São Paulo Confessions (Six Degrees Records): Though São Paulo Confessions has been out since the beginning of the year, it hasn't received the praise it deserves as a landmark collection of map-crunching, genre-bridging beat music, one that draws on Brazilian rhythms, a European sensibility and an electronica vibe; the result most resembles the Latin-jazz explosion that consumed NYC in the '50s, at least in spirit. Composed by an artist simply known as Suba (who died in a house fire in November of last year), the record is deep, thick and muddy. The dozen tracks roll smoothly (though not lite-ly), with a tempo that ranges from smooth Havana 3 a.m. to crazy wicked Alex Reece jungle speed. Most are somewhere in between and anchored in reality by the presence of almond-eyed female vocalists who understand that the sexiest voice is a mere notch above a whisper and that the nighttime is the right time. (Interestingly, Bebel Gilberto, whose recent Tanto Tempo was in part produced by Suba before his death, doesn't make an appearance within.) You can hear the sun's absence, the moon's presence, at the surface of São Paulo Confessions, and it lights each track just enough to reveal its crannies, its essence and its ultimate danger.

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