E.Moss: Beatboxes At Dawn
Consumers Research & Development

VA: It's Never Finished
Consumers Research & Development

In an earlier review, I characterized Consumers' sound in triangular terms with instrumental hip-hop, IDM, and post-rock occupying the three corners. It's Never Finished indicates that my original characterization was not so much inaccurate as oversimplified. The label sampler shows the Chicago imprint's compass points in multiple directions and attempting to define its stylistic range so tidily proves inadequate. Certainly the label issues marvelous IDM (Signaldrift's “Sweet Freedom”), hip-hop (Innerstance.Beatbox's “Tekniques”), and post-rock (The Timeout Drawer's magnificent jewel “Man Must Breathe”) but the disc also includes cuts like Miles Tilmann's Drexciya-meets-Mantronix “Split the Middle,” Atomly's techno cut “HGFZ,” and the rumbling swagger of Crut's “I Wanna Be A Rock'N'Roll Star.” Put simply, applying labels in Consumers' case proves to be futile: “Sweet Freedom” is really only tangentially IDM and, if anything, more akin to breezy post-rock, and Pete Marriott's electric “Time & Space” may be grounded in hip-hop but hardly conforms to any familiar template. Best of all, much of It's Never Finished highlights upcoming releases (Campos Verdes, Innerstance.Beatbox, Signaldrift, Crut). If such teasers are intended to build anticipation, they do so in spades.

The instrumental hip-hop collage style E.Moss brings to Beatboxes at Dawn EP isn't necessarily new, but the refined sensibility the LA producer-DJ brings to the genre is one definitely worth emulating. Rather than overloading his tracks to excess with disordered confusion the result, he wields a careful, controlling hand that finds a satisfying mid-ground betwixt abstraction and coherence. His five originals range widely, with booming breaks and furious scratching colliding in the old-school “Imperius Rex” and chopped voices inflaming a faded funk pulse in “Back To The Edit.” Elsewhere, beats build thunderously alongside a Terre Thaemlitz piano loop in “Your Life Right Here.” Voices wax philosophical during the restrained opening half of “Watch The Skies (Revisited),” a rework of Moss's first Atmos single (he's a producer/DJ for the Mo'Wax hip-hop group), while choral voices float over writhing breaks during the second. Moss's range of source material is wide too, with classical plundered as much as any other genre: check out the hip-hopified string pizzicati in “Chopin Beats & Droppin Brahms” (plus Scott Matelic's driving beats remix). Ending the set sweetly, Steinski contributes a delicious “Back To The Edit” overhaul which weaves a dreamy snake-charmer theme through a mass of disembodied voices and exhalations (the closing ones resurrecting Miles's unmistakable rasp).

June 2006