Published Feb 20, 2010Former X-Executioner and legendary DJ Rob Swift returns with his eighth album, based upon the manipulation of classical music. The Architect is largely instrumental and produced entirely by Swift, who expertly binds chaotic string loops and classical musical samples to neck snapping break beats. His virtuoso scratching turns eerie minor note violins and driving string arrangements into startlingly effective long-form compositions. The classical influence manifests itself both in The Architect's sound, as well as its structure: "Lower Level" and record highlight "Rabia" both appear as three-part movements, and the album centres upon a number of recurring scratch and sample motifs. "Lower Level" explores more conventional turntablist territory, as Swift expertly cuts vocal samples into blaring horns and soaring strings. Even the standalone songs are affecting, particularly tunnel vision instrumental "D.R.E.W." Breez Evahflowin's raps on "Principio" and "Ultimo" bookend the album nicely, the former providing the album's modus operandi: "some have debated, hip-hop can't compete with Sebastian Bach/'til it was built from scratch." Ideally crafted for late night listening, The Architect is an unnerving trip uniting turntablism and the classical canon as a seamless entity. To paraphrase Handsome Boy Modelling School: classical music could never hip-hop like this.
Why classical music?
Back in 2008, I'm shaving and my girlfriend walks in. She says, "Rob, I want you to listen to this." And she played me a composition by Frederick Chopin. It really moved me. I'd heard classical music [elsewhere], but it never really registered with me. [She] started playing me compositions by Chopin, Beethoven, Mozart and I just fell in love with the genre within hours. I started working on my new album and after two months, I realized I was structuring my songs similar to [how] classical composers structured their songs: in movements.
Tell me about Roc Raida, your former partner in the X-Executioners [who passed away last September].
We lost an amazing person, an amazing DJ and artist. Losing him was such a shock to everyone, especially the people who were close to him. He died as a result of an accident he suffered in a martial arts class. I've never lost someone so close to me. I was in the process of designing the artwork for [The Architect] 'round the time Raida passed away. When he died, I [contacted] my artist and told him, 'I want to rework some of the artwork to reflect my love for Raida.' We decided to dedicate the album to [him]. When I did the video [for Architect track "Rabia Movement 2"], I knew I was going to wear the Roc Raida shirt. It's good to know I'm in a position to keep his legacy alive. I'm always going to do that in my music, whether it's videos or in [my interviews]. I lost a brother. I'm excited about keeping him going and continuing what he couldn't finish. (Ipecac)