Ancient Astronauts We Are To Answer

The Ancient Astronauts are a production duo based out of Cologne, Germany. Their debut, We Are To Answer, serves up a heady brew of hip-hop, dub reggae and DJ Shadow-inspired instrumentals. Not all these genre experiments work, however. "Surfing The Silvatide" is flat dub reggae and "A Hole To Swallow Us" is a plodding downtempo number featuring the implausibly named Phat Old Mamas. Imani and Bootie Brown of the Pharcyde fail to do justice to the Astronauts' throwback beat on "Classic." The other hip-hop features are better. On "Risin High," Raashan Ahmad enthusiastically pays homage to rap's golden age over a blend of piano, airy flutes and crispy drums. Bay area MC Azeem spits vivid apocalyptic imagery on the spacey thump of "Oblivion." But the Astronauts are at their best crafting brooding instrumentals, as on "I Came Running," a delicate blend of disembodied vocal samples, guitar strums and boom-bap drums. More adventurous is "Lost In Marrakesh," a gently trippy voyage through Moroccan post-rock. Flaws aside, We Are To Answer makes an excellent showcase for the Teutonic duo's production skills and shows great promise for future work. (ESL)