Many artists follow a biennial release schedule. Not Skyler McGlothlin: Lit, his second instrumental hip hop outing under the Malcom Kipe guise, is scheduled to appear a mere five months after his Breakspiracy Theories debut. “I was in my girlfriend's car listening to beats I burned for her and realized I had all these tracks I'd forgotten about,” he explains. “So I remixed and remastered them and Gabe (Koch, Merck label head) was down for releasing them. I could wait and issue it next year but I really want to wipe the slate clean and start fresh.” And how does it sound? “It's very similar to Breakspiracy Theories although it's more of an instrumental/breakbeat CD. The songs are slightly repetitive and the album isn't a continuous mix; it's great for MCs to freestyle over. The closest thing I can compare it to, as far as album programming or structure is concerned, is Pete Rock's Petestrumentals or Madlib's Beat Conductor project. Hip hop instrumentals are always kind of lonely and repetitive that's the style I'm trying to achieve.”

McGlothlin, who grew up in Gun Barrel City, Texas and formally studied piano and alto sax, began creating material with a 4-track, then mini-disk 8-track, and finally computer. In fact, Kipe, the name a jagged conflation of 'Mal' (bad or abnormal), 'com' (Computer Output Microfilm acronym), and 'Kipe' (steal), is one of three monikers used by the 27-year old studio recluse, with the others Felix Hoenikker (his DJ guise) and Nautilis (the name under which he releases experimental electronic music). Why didn't he issue the Kipe material under the already-familiar Nautilis name? “Unfortunately, my hip hop material sounds much too different to be called Nautilis,” McGlothlin says. “The Kipe material is so much more laid back; the beats aren't as busy and the music flows out easier. Lately, I've been on more of a songwriter/pop formula tip. I've been starting with a hook or chorus, then working out the verses and bridge. Melodies, hooks, and choruses have always been my thing, mainly because I'm a sax player. If you spend a lot of time on a lead instrument, melodies come really easy.” Interestingly, Breakspiracy Theories started out as a Nautilis album called Tralfamadora, a genre-mixed album similar to Are You An Axolotl. “I sent it out to some labels, got some feedback, and decided to focus the concept,” explains McGlothlin, “so I pulled all the hip hop tracks from Tralfamadora and started the hip hop/sample-based project Malcom Kipe, a process that took about a year because I re-worked the majority of the tracks when I got my mpc. So the first Malcom Kipe 12-inch is pre-mpc and the full length is a lot of reworks with mpc beat tracks.”

Though Breakspiracy Theories includes guest appearances (DJ Chicken George on cuts in “Motivestation,” Stres from Antennae on vocals in “My Room Remix,” and a collaboration with Planet Mu's Joseph Nothing titled “The Machine”), it's largely constructed from samples on an mpc 2000xl using Cubase SX. Asked to describe his preferred source material, McGlothlin says, “I look at four things when I buy a record: cover art, label, artist, and year. I can normally find the sounds I'm looking for if it's a release from 1967-1977, although lately I've been buying more material from the ‘80s; I like buying spoken-word records and stuff like Paul Horn for flute samples. You learn to pick out certain artists if you're looking for certain parts. If I wanted some really up-tempo freaked piano or keyboard part I might look for some Chick Corea or something.” Given the healthy number of ‘60s and ‘70s sounds on the record, I ask if he has an especial affection for those eras. Calling them classic decades, he says, “Artists then had higher standards; there weren't pitch adjustment filters and ProTools, and everything was accomplished the hard way. If you couldn't play or sing, you couldn't make it and I think this is how it should be today.”

September 2005