Like Dublab's own army of beat junkies, Freeways artists such as freestyle lyric legend and producer Divine Styler, house/ techno impresario John Tejada and world-jazz shaman Adam Rudolph are all over the stylistic map. Acoustic indie sensation Mia Doi Todd re-creates "Digital," from her corker of a solo CD, Zeroone, as a hypnotic, pulsating mood piece. (Headphones, we'd suggest, provide the best way to hear how her sonorous smoke trail of a voice twists and curls words such as "binary zeroes" and "forbidden fruit" around the frisky, edgy beats.) Mannequin Lung's "Is It Live?" is all-encroaching menace -- complete with thumping bass and molten-lava sizzle. Dntel weighs in with "If I Don't Return," an exhilarating "microchip love song" that pits his soft luv-man whisper against stuttering bleeps and ethereal soundscapes. Tom Chasteen, head honcho at Exist Dance, offers up "Death Zone Reflection" under one of his 200 aliases, Skull Valley -- kicking up mean oilcan rhythms with a little Shaft-like wa-wa that stretches you out nicely in its hammocklike psychedelia (again, headphones).
There are a few missteps: Mad alchemists such as Daedelus and Tejada check in with tracks that range from lukewarm to irksome -- and Nowhereman's "Seathrough Dolphin Smile" wheezes sluggishly like a dying furnace. But the sheer inventiveness displayed by genre- and persona-hoppers such as Madlib from Oxnard b-boys the Lootpack -- recording as free-fusion entity Yesterday's New Quintet -- or unsigned secrets like Damon Aaron (whose "Don't Get Up Again" is all chamber blues and slinky noir) makes Freeways a tantalizing glimpse at artists who've been quietly edging musical trends toward the frontiers of God-knows-where -- and, with any luck, will nudge it beyond.