Various Human Element

Attempting to do what Bomb Records did for the turntable in the mid-’90s with Return of the DJ, Van-City’s 108 crew and High Times Records are trying to prove that the vocal chords could be viewed as a viable musical instrument by highlighting the often overlooked human beatbox. On Human Element, these beatbox artists use their mouth not only for drum beats, but also to imitate other instruments, turntable scratches, and sound effects, often accompanied by an oddball mix of everything from guitars and turntables to raps and more beatboxing. With "Heat Rocks,” Kmillion runs through a classic DJ routine using just his mouth, while B-Shorty is equally as impressive accompanying his own vocal scratches on "Category 3: Versatility” as he is battling Q-Bert’s live turntable antics on "Interlude.” Also worth checking is D.R.E.S. tha Beatnik, who opts for a "100% organic” beat for himself to rap over on "Elevation,” and Kris Jung, who anchors metal guitar riffs with his beatboxed speed metal drums on "Liquid Butterfly.” Unfortunately, as impressive as these oral demonstrations might be, the shtick becomes boring before the end. While Human Element could potentially spark a beatbox renaissance, it will likely only appeal to the already converted. (108)