Odd Nosdam: Pretty Swell Explode

Pretty Swell Explode offers up two discs' worth of Odd Nosdam's grimy, sample-heavy hip-hop with disc one a full-length of remixes and B-sides and disc two an EP of “ambient” material. Almost half of the seventeen tracks are exclusives to what is essentially an odds'n'sods collection whose contents were born around the time of 2005's Burner and 2007's Level Live Wires. Nosdam's psychedelic collages are impenetrably dense and bombastic with samples and voices galore caught in a state of perpetual collision. The material is a disorienting swirl that, when anchored at all, is grounded by heavy hip-hop beats and the stabilizing presence of guests like Jessica Bailiff who elevates a three tracks with her celestial vocalizing. The blurry lope of “Untitled Three (JBs OG Mix)” and ambient sketch “Untitled Sketch” both get a strong boost from her silken vocal presence, and she also ably navigates a path through Nosdam's fuzzy re-imagining of Black Moth Super Rainbow's “Forever Heavy.” The “Blasted” remix of Serena Maneesh's “Don't Come Down Here (Blasted Remix)” feels heady indeed when Nosdam stirs haunted voices, acoustic guitars, and cello into the song's toxic brew, and “Ligaya” by Anticon duo Alias & Tarsier gets squeezed through Nosdam's shredder too. A cubistic collage so over-the-top it verges on psychotic, Nosdam assembled the Hood tribute “(Growin Up In The Hood) Four Thousand Style” using multiple samples lifted from the Hood catalogue (the vocals of band leader Chris Adams aka Bracken become so much silly putty in Nosdam's hands).

The EP, which is rather less frenetic though still dense in construction, includes “Perfectly Pink Path,” a piece written for Subtle keyboardist Dax Pierson (who was paralyzed in a 2005 accident), and congealing meldings of ambient and hip-hop (“My Prayer Rug,” “Bear Hug”). Clearly, the key cut is the nine-minute remix of Boards Of Canada's “Dayvan Cowboy,” a multi-movement treatment that, not surprisingly, doesn't top the original but offers an interesting enough re-imagining—as much as one could hope for, given that Boards Of Canada's material hardly stands much chance of being bettered by others. Put the two discs together and you've got a pretty good representation of Nosdam's style and one that's generally not unmusical either, despite his propensity for excess (for the record, the release also includes videos for “Kill Tone,” “Clouded,” and the “Dayvan Cowboy” remix). Listeners new to his work, however, might be better served by starting with the more cohesive collection Level Live Wires before turning to Pretty Swell Explode.

June 2008