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Toolshed - Schemata
By Thomas QuinlanWith a few group and solo releases in their past, Toolshed's newest full-length album, Schemata, stands out as their best release to date by far. It might be the magical mastering touch of Peanuts & Corn's mcenroe, but the music just sounds better: crisper, more full and just plain slick. Sometimes using live instrumentation, Timbuktu (Toolshed's resident producer/MC) packs his beats full of drums, fat bass lines, pianos, brass and some creepy sounds, winning a battle to keep a too-long album mostly interesting until the end. Toolshed's DJ, Fat Mike, also contributes to keeping the music interesting with his precise cuts of familiar lines by your favourite MCs, including a few classic lines by Canadian underground icons like Buck 65 and Sixtoo. And, of course, it's all done so Timbuktu and his rhyme partners Psyborg and Choke can tell their stories, scenarios and hippy-esque cautionary tales. "Our House," which begins with an answering machine message from their landlady, is an ode to the Toolshed, the shit-hole studio house in which the three MCs live. "It's a place to get loaded with electrical outlets," they rhyme. With "Borderlines," the 'Shed continue the horror they last visited with their earlier "Cabin Fever," this time summoning demons and other evil over a demented circus instrumental. And while not always flawless, their flows have improved to the point where they often work the beat down to the bone. Their knack for interaction is also very noticeable throughout Schemata, as they join in with each other, flip back and forth and finish each other's rhymes. Other highlight tracks are the ominous "Adaptability," the deep gully groove of "Silent Science" and the two tracks that feature individual appearances by the 'Shed's "Bending Mouth" buddies; Selfhelp's enthusiastic appearance on "Unified Identity" is a Schemata highlight while Thesis Sahib lends a good verse to "Age In," a song full of good verses. Schemata is the album that proves Toolshed might make a dent in the Canadian hip-hop market as their career unfolds. Plus, they have a wicked live show.
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