Beans featuring William Parker and Hamid Drake Only

For the next phase in his perennial mission to all but erase the boundaries of what can be considered hip-hop music, former Antipop lyricist Beans explores his avant-jazz fantasies with the largely instrumental Only LP. Accompanied by William Parker on bass and Hamid Drake on drums, the experimental producer relies on fractured live elements, errant atmospheric bleeps and dissected percussive rhythms to create moody soundscapes that sit still only long enough to convey a discernible groove before shifting in form. Beans’ flow, in the few sections of this album that actually contain lyrics, are as sporadic and splintered as the sounds they ride over, as the record plays out as rearranged pieces of one long session. The weakest link in this whole set is the bass player who, despite being described as amazing in the album’s liner notes, spends much of the record either diddling around like a novice, or getting stuck on muddy two-note patterns that seem like a waste amidst such an exercise in exploration. While there’s very little here aside from some steady snare/hi-hat work to root this album in the realm of hip-hop, Bean’s does get his point across and, by the end, the connections are made clear. (Thirsty Ear)