The New Law: The New Law
The New Law

The New Law (Seattle-based Adam Straney and Justin Neff) creates epic hip-hop instrumentals infused with jazz, funk, drum & bass, and Eastern flavour and bolstered by a palpable live feel. Judging by their backgrounds, one presumes it's Straney who handles the guitar and drum chores and Neff who brings his piano and saxophone chops to the disc's fourteen cuts, after which the two collaboratively work all of that and a library's worth of samples into the album's final form using digital technology.

The jazzy trip-hop of “Deconstructed Funk” nicely sets the stage for the outpouring to come. Guided by a marauding bass presence, Straney and Neff prepare a steamy brew of Bird-styled sax riffery and funky snare and hi-hat interplay. DJ Ideaz opens “Highly Sophisticated” with some tasty scratching and then moves aside to let the duo's cinematic hip-hop to take over. The tune's mood turns lethal as ululating voices slip and slide over the thunderously propulsive groove. A good number of strong cuts surfaces elsewhere too: soul, hip-hop, and funk electronically collide in the powerful head-nodder “Falling Autumn,” a groaning acoustic bass drives the sax-driven jazz-hop of “Bloody Mary,” and “MCMLXXXVII” nicely caps the disc with a dramatic outro of melancholy synth business. The New Law's affinity for the Old West is borne out by the album artwork, of course, but it also emerges in a number of tracks. “Fa Lude Oh!” sounds like The New Law jamming with Ennio Morricone at Sergio Leone's ranch while bongos and guiros help situate “Banshee on Valium” in a dusty Dodge saloon.

The New Law definitely rewards your time and effort but it's hardly perfect. The music lapses into soggy Material territory on “The Midnight Sorcoror” [sic], turns overly-ponderous in “Afterlife,” and indulges in drum & bass that's more generic than epic in “Bad Weather Beach”; plus, like many an artist's debut, the disc is overstuffed, Straney and Neff presumably having stock-piled a huge volume of music and filled its debut to the brim, eager to get as much of its music out there as possible (why artists persist in believing that a 75-minute release makes a better impression than a 50-minute one remains an unsolved mystery). Thankfully, though, the good material outweighs the bad, making it a strong and accomplished if overlong debut.

December 2006