Vast Aire OX 2010: A Street Odyssey

Vast Aire OX 2010: A Street Odyssey
The intro homage to 2001: A Space Odyssey is a little overlong and definitely drags, but from first song "Nomad" and through the remaining 13 tracks, OX proves to be Vast Aire's best album. His previous solo output has often suffered from spotty production choices, and plenty of cheesy lines always rest uneasily amongst his witty, wordy punch lines. Guest vocals from Karniege, Guilty Simpson, Cappadonna, Raekwon, Cannibal Ox partner Vordul Mega and a few unknowns further break up Vast's constant attempts to be witty. Beat-wise, it must be hard to go from El-P to relying on your own resources, and aside from a lo-fi psych-rock beat by Ayatollah for "The Verdict," the production is supplied by a bunch of newbies. Count Fif (responsible for the intro and first four songs) presents some of the most traditional sounds on the album, such as the tinkling piano and guitar loop of "Almighty Jose," on which Vast raps, "If you've got Count Fif that beat is hot." On the other hand, his beat for "Nomad" is big and spacey, and the ska horns dominating "I Don't Care" make for one of the album's only fun and catchy tracks. Combined as Brother Hood 603, producers Thanos and Arewhy are most successful at capturing that classic Cannibal Ox sound with the album-closing "Battle of the Planets," where Vast Aire responds to Cage's diss track, "Nothing Left To Say." Separately, Arewhy contributes a dark, industrial-influenced illbient beat for "The Cannon of Samus," while Thanos disappoints with his sugary-sweet, laidback love ballad beats for "Horoscope" and "Dark Matter." Harry Fraud also impresses, especially with his bagpipe sampling on "2090 (So Grimy)." Sure, OX hits a few lows, but it has a lot more highlights and is the closest Vast Aire has come to revisiting The Cold Vein since the break-up of Cannibal Ox. (Man Bites Dog)