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Monday, January 9, 2017

DJ Spooky (That Subliminal Kid) presents Haunted Battle Breaks

Name: DJ Spooky 
Album: Haunted Battle Breaks
Year: 1998
Style: Hiphop/Triphop, DJ, Electronic, Experimental
Similar Bands: Tricky, X-ecutioners, Jurassic 5, Cut Chemist, DJ Shadow, Badawi, Aphex Twin
One Word Review: Haunting Collage of Steady Break Beats.
Based Out Of: Washington DC
Label: Liquid Sky Music, Home Entertainment
 Haunted Battle Breaks - Cover, Record
Haunted Battle Breaks - Back, Record
Haunted Battle Breaks (1998)

Album Rating (1-10): 5.0

Members & Other Bands:
Paul D'Shonne Miller (DJ Spooky / That Subliminal Kid) - Writer, Composer, Producer, Performer (the Alchemist)
Dan Yashiv - Engineer
Chris Flam - Compiler (Matthew Shipp)

Unknown-ness: I had heard of DJ Spooky, but I am not familiar with his music or style (or even that familiar with his genre). Figured I'd pick this up when I saw it in a thrift store and see if it was interesting at all.

Album Review: DJ Spooky, AKA That Subliminal Kid (name taken from the William S Burroughs book “Nova Express,” is a DC native, and has been making experimental, electronic music and spinning trip hop since 1996. As he has flown somewhat under the radar, he has worked with a great many people, is the executive editor of Origin Magazine (Art, Music, Humanitarianism, Sustainability, etc.) and is a professor of music/meditated art at the European Graduate School.

Since are no song tracks or names, I’ll be reviewing the album in full, with the style breaks where I can figure them out.

The record starts with a couple of samples scratched. Starting with vocals and flowing into a hip hop song. Then a steady drum-cymbal-woodblock hip hop beat flows steadily. My knowledge of this genre and other examples of it is depressingly low, so I’ll just equate this to a Beastie Boys rhythm for about 3 min.
The beat and rhythm becomes funkier, pulsing jazz horn, akin to James Brown. The beat is skipped and scratched rhythmically, and other funky “Fatboy Slim” effects are thrown over top, like a swirling Doppler effect, and bucket drum beats.
The “third” section begins with another vocal sample scratching, followed by repeating eerie space effects. A skipping bass heavy drumbeat stutters and hobbles along in tip-hop style.
Part four begins with scrabbling, paper crunching effects that birth a muddled, back skipping drum beat.
The next shift begins with some eerie horror movie atmospheric notes, and after a bit of skip-scratching, bombards the listener with an energetic, in your face, skittering drum beat.  It ends with an Atari-like bomb-drop trill.
Section six is slow moving at first, sounding like static electricity focused through a zoob-tube. The sound grows and fades, and halts suddenly,
Shifting to what could be called a war-scape. A windy echoing void is filled with artillery fire, non-steady percussion and chimes that fade in and out on repeat.
More vocal and song samples begin the next track, with “We Gonna Get Ya” followed by voices, some with a beat, followed by a flat siren. Chaotic samples feed in one after another, with popping bubbles filling the space along with screams, quotes, footfalls and other war-oriented effects. Basically, the track comes off like channel surfing, but has a unifying, underlying meaning. This is basically an audio collage. Crowd cheers bleeds into electronic pulses that begin phase two of the collage. There are some haunted themes, along with war, and hip hop that make up the overall soundscape.

Side B starts with gunshots, bubbles and a haunted organ. More channel surfing effects like an old modem dial-up and hip-hop lines transition to a steady, jazzy dance-hop beat with some punctuating synth breaks.
A light breezy hook, followed by a vocal quote leads into another drum and racket ball beat.
Some tape rewind effects lead to a jazzy background to accompany an olde-timey vocal, which is then supported by old-time music, like a broken down take me out to the ball game and other rewinding effects.
This short segment is then replaced by a darker drum beat, with an echoing shock-synth break effect. Second verse incorporates funky bass, various classic hip hop samples: scratches and vocal samples. It ends abruptly, and some scratching intros the next track.
More tape rewinding effects are featured, and a couple haunting vocals, which leads to a steady, haunting reggae beat. It stops abruptly
Pipe percussion comes on next, and is replaced by a jazz-heavy, high hat drum beat. Thicker bass beats are added overtop, and the song cruises along steadily.
The song shifts, and an echo-fading sad siren repeats high and low octaves, supported by a back skipping, trippy drum beat.  The beats stop for a moment, but kick back in after one combo-rep of the siren.
The last track is not too much different than the one right before it, but the production is more industrial, and the deep bass rumbling percussion bubbles along, replacing the octave shifting siren. The whole album ends with a sudden halt of all instrumentation.

Stand Out track: A-5 (or A-6?)

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