DJ Rels Theme for a Broken Soul

Another month, another Madlib alias or so it would. Just as heads are digesting Stevie, Madlib’s tribute to Stevie Wonder delivered in his Yesterday’s New Quintet jazz guise, it appears he’s unveiled yet another alias as a purveyor of West London’s broken beat sound. Given the credits read "recorded by Madlib,” he’s an executive producer on the project and gave a shout out to Bugz in the Attic’s Seiji on Jaylib’s "The Red,” it’s a safe bet it’s him. Identity issues aside, this represents a definite excursion, even for an artist as eclectic as Madlib. Under his YNQ moniker his drums are often intentionally sloppy, yet here Madlib adopts the clinically precise and kinetic drum programming method utilised by the genre’s full-time practitioners, albeit without the pristine varnish. On the most orthodox broken beat entry "Universal Peace,” he takes this approach to the extreme, whittling the drums down to mere slivers. Also, Madlib’s rapid work ethic often means his productions are presented in all their ragged glory, but he’s obviously been more patient here on creating fully realised instrumental compositions, gradually building tension in his tracks, whether he’s dropping atmospheric keyboard layers or stripping the track down to its bare essentials. While there are occasional groove ruts, interesting steps outside the confines of this still-evolving music into aquatic deep house ("The Doo”) and batucada-inspired moments ("Sao Paulo”), demonstrate that his aim is to contribute to its progress rather than latching on and emulating. (Stones Throw)