Eliot Lipp: Steele Street Scraps

Memo to Hefty: Maybe including a word like ‘scraps' in album titles isn't such a great idea, if, that is, you want to avoid suggesting that a given release is a collection of leftovers. Some of Steele Street Scraps EP slips easily into that category, specifically half-minute fragments (“Gangsta Shit,” “Moog”) that feel like sketches Lipp could develop into finished tracks. His half-hour follow-up to the splendid synths & beats phantasmagoria Tacoma Mockingbird also features two remixes: John Hughes' Slicker-styled makeover of “Tic Tac,” which offers an appealingly laid-back jazz-funk spin on Lipp's superior original, and Hefty label-mate Victor Bermon's “Glasspipe” version which is decent enough but dilutes the original's purposeful flow with hazy digressions.

Luckily for Lipp, there's enough here of value to justify the acquisition. The standout is the opener “Illa Than” where Lipp and Chicago compadre Earmint weave a mesmerizing soul-funk cocktail from a shark-like sub-bass, an oscillating synth siren, voice wails, and a slamming hip-hop break that's worth the price of admission all by itself. At the opposite end, “Harmonix” shows off a gentler side not heard on Tacoma Mockingbird. Some tracks come from the Tacoma Mockingbird sessions and definitely sound like it. With its crisp beats and neon synth layers, “Flashlight” clearly sounds like one candidate while “The Intro” with its Tarkus-styled synth snarl and swinging shuffle groove is likely another. That's no bad thing in these two cases whereas “Next Break,” while fresh enough, sounds a bit too much like a retread for comfort. All told, Lipp fans won't be disappointed by Steele Street Scraps but may not be enthralled either: the crisp beats still sound fabulous but only about half of the EP is essential listening. That ratio pales alongside Tacoma Mockingbird which is totally solid from beginning to end.

November 2006