Yesterday's New Quintet Angles Without Edges

Any project West Coast producer Madlib is involved with seems to have wildly disparate characteristics. As the producer/MC of the Lootpack, he was behind the unordinary sounding loops of their impressive Soundpieces: Tha Antidote debut. He took a sharp turn to the left by introducing Quasimoto, his high-pitched alter ego on the bugged-out The Unseen. So it should be no surprise that his Yesterday's New Quintet project is a wholly instrumental excursion into jazz representing another alter ego permutation. Despite the fact that players such as Amhad Miller, Malik Flavors, Monk Hughes, Joe McDuffrey and Otis Jackson Jr. (Madlib's birth name) are listed, he is the only player, with some of the other fictitious names cobbled together from some of his favourite jazz musicians. "Most of the time, the reason I did these [alter] egos is because I'm always by myself," says Madlib. "It used to be back in the days, when I used to live in Oxnard, everybody would come through. But now it's just me doing stuff, so I tack different names on it." Madlib's experimentation doesn't settle on one mood, accommodating noodling free-jazz and straight-ahead jazz-funk fusion with the likes of Ahmad Jamal, Herbie Hancock and Lonnie Liston Smith serving as his inspiration. Angles Without Edges includes some interesting experimental interpretations of jazz standards and is ideally enjoyed in a reclined position. While his arranging skills are in their early stages, he brings a dusty authentic ambience - a common trait on Madlib records - and a looseness that could come off as sloppy. But there's a method behind this, as Madlib played drums and then looped them on the record by hand to make them sound offbeat, as to preserve "that live element." "I did that on purpose, " he says. "I can come clean with it, but I came raw with it on this album." (Stones Throw)