Take: Plus Ultra EP
Inner Current

Take: The Dirty Decibels of Thomas Two Thousand
Eat Concrete

VA: Twin Earth Atlantic
Eat Concrete

Take's Plus Ultra EP plunders last year's Earthtones and Concrete for a slew of remixes and collabs with Lukid, Daedelus, Domu, and RAS G. If anything, the new release finds Take (T. Wilson) upping the trippy ante with the EP's cuts transformed into psychedelic be-bop boom-bap. First up is Earthtones and Concrete's “Slouched Over” whose bleepy pulse Take gooses with sputtering synth lines. The album's “Dream Suite” is given an instrumental treatment, with the focus now shifting away from Dutchmassive's MC turn to the cut's soupy strings, loping beats, and spacey sparkle. There's a new tune too, “Bee Sting,” a blunted strutter drenched in handclaps, synth lunacy, and off-kilter electro action. On the remix tip, Take and Lukid join forces for the lurching, bass-crawling pulse of the moodily atmospheric “Navigators,” kindred spirit Daedelus brings his customary crazed touch to “You High,” Domu helps inject the plodding hip-hop of “Like a Drum” with late-night jazz flavour, and RAS G twists “Golden Gate Reflections” inside out in a loopy remix (the song's “Sunshine” voice sample also surfaces in “Spondee” on Matmos's A Chance To Cut Is A Chance To Cure).

Take also brings the noise on The Dirty Decibels of Thomas Two Thousand, a 12-inch EP for Dutch label Eat Concrete. The material's rather irreverent in character—Take adopts an alter ego named Thomas 2000 and digs deeper into sample-based hip-hop this time ‘round—but his fleeting instrumentals remain captivating throughout. After a short sampledelic collage, Take gets busy with eight strutting originals and caps the release with a Dimlite (D. Grimm) remake. “Make Believe” sets the tone with wobbly bass, angelic vocals, and all manner of dream-laden piano and synth flutter (Dimlite's closing makeover is even trippier). In “Lie-Twerx,” Take fragments and scatters the vocal sample “the name of the game is lifeworks” across the track's slinky shuffle. He often juxtaposes wildly contrasting elements, such as Indian vocal fragments and turntable cuts in “Sugar Flower” and hyperactive arcade melodies and rumbling hip-hop funk in “After Words.” The ingredients may be familiar but what Take produces with them is tasty indeed, and though the tracks are short (many in the two-minute range) he makes every second count. Though heavily-detailed, his material never breaks down and collapses into noise or excess but always perpetuates a smooth flow that exemplifies his deft touch. An MC declaims “With truth in the music, who could refuse it?” at the start of “Fall In Love Again” and Take's warm flow of beats, vibes, and keys suggests that truer words were never spoken.

Listeners wanting to sample more of Eat Concrete's material should consider the double-disc compilation Twin Earth Atlantic which features downtempo electronic cuts and experimental hip-hop by a solid mix of well- (Daedelus, Low Res) and lesser-known artists. On the whimsical “Remix Of Nothing,” Mad Hatter Daedelus pairs a raucous groove with an inane vocal (“This is it / This it is / I say / The remix”) that's almost buried under crowd noise. Beamed down from Uranus, Low Res's “Dirty Lamentable Scheme” lumbers through clotted clumps of crackle, electronics, and freeform sax squeals. The brainchild of Allen Avanessian and Jimmy Tamborello, Headset's “Grasping Claw” stood out as one of the better tracks on the group's 2004 release Spacesettings, in large part due to Lady Dragon's sensual vocal presence.

Eat Concrete affiliates Ro Lee and ATeeze drop two strong cuts in “Van” and “Bronze,” the first a mid-tempo jazz-hip-hop strutter that sounds a little bit like an imaginary collaboration between Dabrye and Weather Report and the second a dubby, lurching throbber that oozes ominous atmosphere. Jazzy keys and bleepy boom-bap also power Swiss producer Skymark's “The Last Way,” a seamless blend of soul-jazz and hip-hop. Making an appearance in this context too, Take gets out his kalimba for “Tonight,” a sleepy yet rich evocation of LA night-life. On two of the set's most inviting tracks, George (aka Junior Villain) and ATeeze contribute luminous slices of lush hip-hop swing in “Her First Words” and “Hyk.” Though it includes a kaleidoscopic range of material, Twin Earth Atlantic manages to cohere into a unified statement when so much of it references hip-hop as a touchstone.

March 2008