Phoenix Orion Pheonix Orion

Sure, Kool Keith introduced science fiction to the hip-hop world while a member of Ultramagnetic MC's and, more importantly, popularised its underground appeal with Dr. Octagon. However, Phoenix Orion has consistently taken the sci-fi concept to new levels. In 1998, he released Zimulated Experiencez, a concept album where every song was a first person interpretation of different sci-fi classics, including Star Wars ("Jedi Mastery"), Blade Runner ("Blade Runner") and Scanners (surprisingly, "Scanners"), held together with interlude snippets from Ghost in the Shell. Since then he's released "A Disturbance in the Force" and "Close Encounters." His pillaging of the classics continues this time around, but not nearly so obviously. The four tracks on this double single in support of the upcoming Secret Wars LP are all still heavily steeped in sci-fi jargon, just this time it's mostly used to tell their own stories. Not one of the four songs is disappointing in any way. In fact, each of these songs are light years ahead of what Phoenix Orion was doing three years ago. That doesn't just mean lyrically, either. The beats on Zimulated Experiencez were good, but with the new material there are a new group of producers and a new mix of sounds. Opting for a more spacy, high-tech sound was definitely a right move for Phoenix Orion, especially considering his lyrical content. The superb beats just seem to hype up Phoenix Orion and his Team Eloheem cohorts, making their delivery that much better. "Microphone Chakrastones" featuring Dandelion, is the winner of the four, despite a hook that I should normally despise but somehow seems to work on the track. Of the next three - "Music Is," featuring Quantum Gamma Zenith and Dandelion, "Scifidelity," featuring Quantum Gamma Zenith, and "Man Against Machine," featuring Quantum Gamma Zenith and Darkzeid - it's hard to pick a runner-up, since it changes depending on which song is playing. Really, Phoenix Orion's newest is a virtually flawless release that makes it easier to believe Team Eloheem when they say, "our music is our way of life," from "Music Is." I'm eagerly awaiting Secret Wars. (Atomcandy)