Force of Nature: III
Mule Musiq

Hip-hop artists and DJs KZA and DJ Kent show themselves to be a very legitimate Force of Nature on their third album. Already released in Japan in 2006, III ventures beyond hip-hop into progressive house, techno, electro, and dub, and much of it's superb, from clubby house jams like the piano-laden stormer “I-Ight” to funk-house party cuts like “To the Brain.” The group's distinctive sound asserts itself immediately in the opener “Axiomatie” where Asian string samples rub shoulders with a dirty bass-burning groove, and the good times keep rolling in the fifteen swinging samplings that follow. Force of Nature sounds just as convincing when tackling the fiery guitar-driven “Straight Ahead” and jazzy, Rhodes-and-congas-heavy roar of “Bring It,” and when KZA and DJ Kent strike out for more exotic territory (e.g., “Traderoute” and its tasty flute hook), they make sure to ground the material with a deliciously swinging groove. A moaning choir casts its breath upon the locomotive electro of “Sequencer” while “Transmute” infuses its epic, “Metropolis”-like keyboard theme with subtle hip-hop flavour. Though the two “bonus” tracks that close the album could just as easily have been omitted, III still impresses as a remarkably well-crafted collection with KZA and DJ Kent loading their arrangements with rich detail that's not so ample the tracks become burdensome and bloated.

July 2008