Mikedecline Umbrellatons

Umbrellatons harkens back to the late '90s glory days of producer/turntablist hip-hop albums that exploded after the release of DJ Shadow's ...Endtroducing. The trend has died off a fair bit over the last decade, but Vancouver, BC producer Mikedecline proves it's not yet ready to be buried. This free download comes broken up into 12 distinct tracks, but considering how the album flows from beginning to end, with subtle transitions from one song to the next, the recommended way to listen is the 30-minute single track version, also included as a bonus. Umbrellatons opens with a fairly minimal beat that's dominated by DJ K-Rec's aggressive cuts. It's a poor start to the album and the generic second track doesn't help the cause. Both are quickly forgotten as the album hits its stride, starting with "St. Laurent (East Van)," and the samples and cuts, the latter all performed by K-Rec, become subtler and better integrated. Mikedecline's beats are mostly chill headnodders, with only the Flamenco-inflected "FSTR FSTR" upping the tempo into ass-moving territory. Each song or section has a theme, but the samples ― a selection of soul and psych rock singing, classic hip-hop words and phrases with a long tradition of use by DJs, and a bunch of other choices from TV, movies and records ― don't always allow for easy discovery. Sometimes the choices even seem fairly arbitrary. Hopefully, Mikedecline will rely less on a DJ next time, but Umbrellatons is still a great showcase of his skills as a producer. (Phonographique)