Mad EP: Eating Movies
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The chaotic collage gracing the cover of Eating Movies, Matthew Peters' full-length Mad EP debut, suggests its aural contents might be similarly dense. But while the album does on occasion come across like some viral Mirex-Anticon spawn, Eating Movies ranges far beyond a singular hip-hop style. In fact, the album, NY-based Peters' follow-up to the 12-inch When I'm 6, unfolds rather restrainedly in spite of its apocalyptic aura and ultimately impresses for being consistently unpredictable. For instance, Peters includes MC Equivalent's vocals (under the EQ moniker) on several pieces yet his torrid flow typically becomes one part of a track's overall texture as opposed to its overriding focal point.

A head-nodder like “Den-m,” then, with its manic scratching and EQ's chopped, garbled voice sounds pretty much like what one might anticipate from an alternative electronic hip-hop project; similarly, the portentous overture “S-Cents” and the prickly “Hz” match one's instrumental expectations; the latter's noisesome brew of grinding electronics, mashed beats, and mangled voice distortions is entirely in keeping with the genre. Virtually every other track, though, surprises with fresh stylistic detours. While the serpentine groove in “Dweller” isn't terribly unusual, its soft horn punctuation is. The lurching Dabryesque feel of “Dana's Calming Effect On A Mad Mind” contrasts markedly with the fulminating junglist breaks of “Scab Removal Technique.” Peters collaborates with Jason Forrest (Donna Summer) on “Live Till I Rot” but, rather than amped hellraising, the song pits EQ against an unusual array of beat splatter and plummeting bass throbs. Peters even finds room for two quieter episodes, a becalmed soundscape “Saill on” and “Pmoonv2” where a repeating acoustic guitar sliver peeks through a broiling mix of garbled voices, breakbeat clatter, and grinding noise.

Naturally where there are strengths, there are weaknesses too. In the album's most unusual move, Peters' band, the Manhattan Gimp Project, creates a meditative oasis of muted trumpet, flute, and cello in the vaguely Eastern “Ride_072902”; unfortunately, the piece is diminished by overly intrusive electronic effects. In addition, seething throbs in the percussion-heavy “Get With Rats” offer an ugly though not out-of-character end to the album; the album's sound is at times muddy, and a more strongly developed melodic dimension would have rendered it more memorable. But, in spite of such caveats, Eating Movies impresses as a bold and stylistically diverse experimental travelogue.

February 2005