Enduser: Calling the Vultures

On Calling the Vultures, Lynn Standafer (aka Enduser) perpetuates his personal crusade to flatten countrysides with a lethal mix of breakcore, hip-hop, jungle, and drum & bass. Yup, it's twisted, hardcore, and haunted but also—most of the time—as good as it gets. The Cincinnati resident has been laying waste to genres since 1994 on labels like Mirex and Ad Noiseam (titles alone—Run War, Mashed Up and Beat Down, Wreckin' Shit—foreground his style) now steps out on Sublight with a collection that's a superb primer for Enduser novices and a good stylistic review for vets.

Like its precursors, the latest album puts endlessly inventive drum programming front and center. Standafer surrounds a melodic core (often piano-generated) with furiously writhing and constantly morphing breaks (“Another Door Opens,” “111.01 Miles,” “I'm Wondering if She's Dead”). Interestingly, the dominance of piano and drums on many songs gives the album a natural dimension, even if Standafer's breaks are programmed. Two such tracks bookend the album: a sombre piano theme forms a lulling nucleus in “Another Door Opens” with hip-hop breaks the focal point while “Another Door Shuts” reprises the overture as a satisfying outro.

The album is strengthened by memorable guest appearances, with equivalANT on three songs and Rachel Kann on another. With the punch of “Rights of Passage” boosted considerably by a fine MC turn by equivalANT, Standafer shows himself a deft hip-hop practitioner. Each of the MC's tracks differs in character: alongside dramatic flurries of string clusters and a slamming groove, he rhymes in a monotone lower register on “Interruption 1” and his words echo and bleed all over the trippy gabba and hip-hop breaks of “Interruption 2.” Kann drops seething voice poetry over the smoking throwdown “Your Drawing”; admittedly, the combination is initially jarring for sounding so unusual but the epic voice-drums attack proves ultimately convincing.

Instrumental tracks provide an intoxicating if disturbed travelogue through the Enduser galaxy. “Wednesday” and “On a Bus in Brighton” roar with steaming drum & bass, blazing breaks, and apocalyptic breakcore. “End of a Beginning - Sublight Version” opens in some glistening, New Age universe until blistering jungle breaks appear, threatening to swallow it whole. In the massive “Assasin” (sic), Standafer spills Apocalypse Now voice samples (primarily Brando's Colonel Kurtz) over frenzied, cranium-shattering Photek breaks. Unfortunately, Standafer indulges his Photek jones a little too much by plundering his sound to excess on the overly-derivative “How Can You Tell I'm Not There” and “Indicision.” Even so, Calling the Vultures holds up as a solid addition to the Enduser canon, and one that shows Standafer as comfortable with breakcore as hip-hop.

November 2005