The Q4: Sound Surroundings
Mr Cooper & Dday One: Tribute To The Q4 (Remixes)
From the Netherlands comes crate-diggers extraordinaires The Q4 (The QuadraphoniQuartet), though in fact the group includes three, not four, members: Dutch producers Arts the Beatdoctor, Sense, and STW (when the group first formed in 2005, there were four members). To fashion Sound Surroundings, the Dutch Masters lifted micro-samples of acoustic bass, vibes, piano, and horns from hundreds of records to create eleven prime grade samplings of instrumental hip-hop, at times adding the contributions of MCs, vocalists, and session musicians to enhance the material's organic feel and add individuating character.
The brief “Intro” lets you know immediately what you're in for with a sampling of classic head-nod featuring acoustic piano, acoustic bass, molasses-thick vinyl crackle, and a turntablism orgy of scratching by DJ Genaro.“One of These Days” unites electric piano, horns, and a bluesy vocal riff (“One of these days and it won't be long / You're gonna search for me and down the road I'll be gone”), while a sprinkle of Piazzolla gives “Oscuros Angeles” a taste of Argentinean flavour before Q4 aided by Curra Suarez brings some serious boom-bap to the recording. The material's bluesy character is never stronger than when a weary Terryman testifies “Broken tax man came took all my dough / Sometimes it just feels like I just can't cope” during “Going Down.”
The mighty groan of the acoustic bass, the plunk of the acoustic piano, and the bleat and flutter of Mick John-Hopkins' saxophone come together in the rambunctious funk of “Look Again”; the fretless bass of Jaco Pastorius appears to peek out of “Split Personality Part II” alongside the Rhodes sparkle of Guido “Quintessence” Maat; and the energy level kicks up a notch in the soul-funk throwdown “Trouble With Me,” which could pass for a collaboration between James Brown and Q4. Pax and Unorthadox add rhymes to the rolling hip-hop flow of “Demagogues” and “My Own Advice,” respectively, and the deep MC growl of BLS contrasts memorably with Maciej Stachurski's cello during “Pulse.” The tracks aren't loose and aimless loop-based constructions but rather tightly-wound songs, rich in stylistic range and instrumental colour. The Q4's melodic head-nodders are oftentimes bluesy, sometimes jazzy, and always funky, and the tracks have bite to burn.
Complementing the album is Tribute to The Q4, a seven-inch single featuring remixes of the group's material by Mr Cooper & Dday One. The drumming powering Mr Cooper's take on “Split Personality” exudes an almost “Firestarter”-like punch, and in so doing distances the remix from the jazzier original. Cooper's treatment hits as hard as a steamroller, especially when he spotlights thunderous snare rolls. Dday One sweetens “Look Again” with a voiceover and his own distinctive brand of boom-bap, and in so doing deepens the track's already deep funk quotient (run for shelter when Dday rolls the big beats out during the closing minute). Can't argue with that.