Phoenix Orion Neo Elo Alpha

You have to give credit to Phoenix Orion for remaining true to his subject matter. While Kool Keith and Del just dabbled, for his third full-length, Neo Elo Alpha, Orion continues to mix an old school b-boy aesthetic with the sci-fi imagery of armageddon, mutations and aliens to create another fine example of "nano-punk, cyber-funk hip-hop." This time the concept - an actual "audio visual simulation," distinct for being the first CD to be presented "Live in Japanimation" - is a little thin compared to previous attempts with Zimulated Experiencez and Secret Wars. The videogame concept is expressed through short liner notes and songs that are designated by level. Phoenix Orion, represented here under his various aliases, does nothing different from his usual, with the possible exception of calling out Deltron 3030 ("You've been cloned, daddy," says his son on "Reloaded") and devoting all of "Battle Mode" to "serving motherfuckers in [his] own click," aka Supernatural. Thus it's left to Orion's collaborators to accept responsibilities for the failures of Neo Elo Alpha. Elusive (aka Prototype) provides Phoenix Orion with his most traditional hip-hop beats yet, but they're also his least spectacular, especially after the dense production from Atom Candy for Secret Wars. Anima Azul, who has a nice voice, is often wasted on cheesy filler and bad choruses, while DJ Prolifix is the only one who adds anything more to the project. Neo Elo Alpha is a good addition to the small canon of sci-fi hip-hop, but it definitely won't be knocking either of Phoenix Orion's former platters out of the box, or off the 'tables. (Sci Phi)