1064-theFREEhoudini_cover.jpg

Themselves

theFREEhoudini Mixtape

Rating: 4.0

Label: Anticon

Is there anyone working in music today that is as exciting and vital as Adam “Doseone” Drucker? Between his day job fronting the TV on the Radio-on-steroids indie outfit Subtle and his collaborations over the years with the likes of Boom Bip (of Neon Neon and Super Furry Animals fame), Mike Patton (yes, that Mike Patton), Why, Odd Nosdam and the Notwist, Drucker is nigh unstoppable. AND YET NONE OF YOU ARE LISTENING TO HIM. Enough lecturing, though; I don’t care what your excuses are, and in a way I envy the feeling you’re going to get when your mind is blown by Drucker for the first time. Lucky for you, the folks over at Anticon have, for the next three months, put up a free mixtape on their site to promote the upcoming album from Doseone and his Subtle-collaborator Jel under their recently resurrected alias Themselves.

Even if it is just a quick, for fun promo Doseone and Jel probably knocked out in a weekend, theFREEhoudini is a pretty damn great starting point for newcomers as well as a suitably epic tour-de-force for loyal fans. The format of the mixtape winds up grounding Doseone’s often idiosyncratic experimental tendencies, with the spoken-word elements and vast washes of ambience he so often utilizes excised in favor of an adrenaline fueled non-stop party for the lunatic fringe. It has the added benefit of exploring Drucker’s admittedly intimidating back catalog, with moments sonically referencing the Board of Canada-by-way-of-Public-Enemy production of cLOUDDEAD, Boom Bip’s mutant jazz stomp, and Subtle’s menacing, apocalyptic four-to-the-floor anthems. This is certainly a by-product of the excellent overall production of Jel and Odd Nosdam, who has in the past collaborated with Doseone for both his solo projects and cLOUDDEAD.

The beats Jel and Odd Nosdam work into the mix are often both vibrant and brooding, filled with a childish sense of wonder and glee and a very adult moodiness. The drums pound against your skull relentlessly while the trademark Anticon sound of dying electronics screams in the background. Though all Anticon releases force you to peer deep into immense sonic layers, this mix takes this step even further, sprinkled as it is with snippets of classic hip-hop tracks.

Doseone and Jel are also aided through uniformly great appearances from some of the best and brightest of underground hip-hop, who take the forefront while Doseone merely weaves in and out of the flows of the all-star ensemble, which includes Busdriver, Slug, Buck 65 and Aesop Rock. Some of the guest MCs, particularly Buck 65 and Slug, sound more adventurous and enthusiastic here than they have on their own recent records; maybe it’s just the production or a result of the sense of competitiveness between the artists, many of whom often shared stages at the early Scribble Jam freestyle tournaments. Whatever it is, this is a mix free of weak links and light moments, centered around a theme expressed towards the end of the mix: “I don’t rap for the money/ Honey.” Or to make it more direct, “This isn’t a mixtape/ It’s a I don’t give a fuck tape.”

Themselves are too chaotic a group to attempt to predict, but based on the strength of this freebie mix, their upcoming album could wind up being one of the year’s best; given that many of the guests on this mix will be appearing on that album as well, this seems even more likely. Its energetic instrumentation and frenetic beats almost certainly mean that the effort will be a more upbeat affair than the relatively somber recent work Doseone and Jel have been doing in Subtle. Maybe it’ll even be enough to get you jerks to listen up.

  • Interview: Doseone (Part Two)

    As one the founders of the influential indie hip-hop label anticon., Adam “Doseone&#…
  • Interview: Doseone (Part One)

    As one the founders of the influential indie hip-hop label anticon., Adam “Doseone&#…
  • Doseone: G is for Deep

    [xrr rating=4.5/5]Being a music fanatic often means devoting yourself to pet causes. Many …
  • Revisit: Slacker

    “This town has always had its fair share of crazies; I wouldn’t want to live a…
  • Interview: Doseone (Part Two)

    As one the founders of the influential indie hip-hop label anticon., Adam “Doseone&#…
  • Interview: Doseone (Part One)

    As one the founders of the influential indie hip-hop label anticon., Adam “Doseone&#…
  • Fuzz: III

    An album strictly focused on continuing the Fuzz legacy, and for some, that’s all it needs…
  • PUP: This Place Sucks Ass EP

    The EP refuses to read as a naive “we’re gonna get through this just fine” narrative, but …
  • Surfer Blood: Carefree Theatre

    Carefree Theatre feels almost like catching up with old friends. …

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

Check Also

Revisit: Slacker

“This town has always had its fair share of crazies; I wouldn’t want to live a…