Odd Nosdam: Level Live Wires

In his latest Odd Nosdam material, David P. Madson weaves found sounds, field elements (burning cars and alarms), and multiple guest shots into a forty-minute audio travelogue of hazy, typically mid-tempo instrumental hip-hop. The album finds collagist Madson creating a seamless flow through four interludes and seven more fully-developed pieces.

Bookended by “On,” a vignette of dark and fuzzy hip-hop, and “Off,” a steely industrial-drone outro, Level Live Wires is unified by a recurring harp theme that appears in three cuts. In “Kill Tone,” harp strums and a hip-hop lope emerge from crackling haze, then fades to let the gentle harp theme assert itself before the beats resume, with disembodied voices now haunting the even cloudier background swirl. The lovely theme returns in “The Kill Tone Two,” now accompanied by Cosmos Lee's violin plus the verse-trading voices of TV on the Radio's Tunde Adebimpe and Why's Yoni Wolf. The melody returns a final time in “Slight Return,” this time mangled into almost unrecognizable form—slowed, stretched out, even reversed. In between those tracks are “Freakout 3,” a grimy, bass-heavy sound sculpture whose rising metallic wave is actually the distorted wail of Chris Adams (Hood, Bracken), and “Fat Hooks,” which kicks up some ethereal dust when Jessica Bailiff's wordless vocalizing distantly soars over the fray. There's also the drum-heavy “Burner” where Madson wraps beats around a car horn's wavering blurt, and is eventually joined by Hood's Chris Adams who adds ghostly violin sawing and vocal moans.

On paper it sounds fantastic yet, despite the infusion of stimulating guest talent, Level Live Wires remains a good but not incredible collection of sample-rich, hip-hop experimentalism. What's missing, frankly, is something radical and innovative, fresh ideas that knock you out so totally you have to immediately hear them again.

August 2007