In February, producer/rapper Jneiro Jarel and masked wordsmith MF Doom announced a collaborative album under the name JJ Doom, teasing us with “Banished” as well as a string of contributors such as Blur/Gorillaz front-man Damon Albarn, Portishead’s Beth Gibbons, and Jarel’s old Willie Isz partner, Khujo Goodie. Now the wait is over, as Key to the Kuffs finally gets its release on Lex.
In just one more trip around the sun, another swarm of immensely talented but under-recognized musicians has harnessed its collective talents and discharged its creations into the void. This list is but one fraction of those dedicated individuals who caught our ears with some serious jams.
Ever since his loop-based beginnings, Bryan Charles Hollan — known better as experimental hip-hop artist Boom Bip — has been on the search for his optimal live-band incarnation. He seems to have found it.
In 2002, Seed to Sun demonstrated Hollan’s ability to make compelling organic and instrumental hip hop. On his recordings since that time, nearly everything has been performed by hand, and the results have been admirable — but nothing has clicked quite like his newest effort, Zig Zaj.
Now Hollan is armed with a permanent live band, consisting of Josh Klinghoffer (Red Hot Chili Peppers), Eric Gardner (Gnarls Barkley, Charlotte Gainsbourg), and Josiah Steinbrick. Their chemistry is immediately evident on Zig Zaj, which also sports standout guest spots from Alex Kapranos of Franz Ferdinand (for one very Depeche Mode track), Money Mark, Luke Steele (Empire of the Sun), Cate Le Bon, and Mikey Noyce (Bon Iver).
Partly because of the guests, the new material takes a poppier and more rock-driven direction. But there’s still plenty of the old Bip underneath, as synths and electronics commingle with the bass grooves and delicate acoustic riffs. ALARM caught up with Hollan to find out more about the evolution of his band and what projects he has in the works.
Tell us about the evolution of the live band. How has that affected or led to what we’re hearing on Zig Zaj?
The evolution of the live band has been like creating a new breed of dog. I’ve constantly been trying to fine-tune it to something enjoyable for me. This time, though, I got it right. The current live band is fantastic. With Zig Zaj, I certainly had the live show in mind when constructing the tracks. As a result, intensity became part of the equation, and you can hear that in the tone of the songs.
Coming out of the collaboration with Gruff Rhys of Super Furry Animals (as Neon Neon), what made you decide to scale back the dance elements for the new album?
The Boom Bip albums have always been more about the moment and trying to not have any limitations or concern for genre. I just let whatever comes out come out. I don’t really think, “What genre does this fit into and what bin will this sit in at the record store?” Although it has become a game for me to see where it is placed. I’ve seen my album in everything from rap to avant-garde.
Holy collaboration — Mike Patton and Justin Broadrick are contributing to a score by Fog‘s Andrew Broder and Adam “Doseone” Drucker for a semi-autobiographical “photographic novel” by Alan Moore. Whoa.
In other news, The Dillinger Escape Plan has signed to Season of Mist, Eyedea & Abilities has a new album, two Rodriguez-Lopezbrothers (not Omar) are releasing a debut full-length, and Múm will release a new disc in August. This and more is in the roundup.
As the weather stops being oppressive in the Northern Hemisphere, a number of potentially great albums from countless genres are on the way. Here’s a list of ten that have us excited, including efforts from Isis, MF Doom, Coalesce, Prefuse 73, Mr. Lif, and more.
The long-rumored Faith No More reunion has been confirmed (!!!). Vocal heavyweight Mike Patton keeps busy with a feature-film soundtrack, MF Doom drops half his name and a new album, Dengue Fever provides accompaniment to The Lost World, hip-hop duo Themselves returns, and much more.