Absorbing Playtime

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Absorbing Playtime is a long-distance relationship bottled on wax. The four members of Oddjobs literally recorded the album via telephone calls, e-mail attachments, and tapes sent back and forth to each other between Minnesota, where half the group lived at the time, and New York, where the other half had ensconced for school. Well, apparently absence makes the music grow stronger, or at least it did in this case. Despite its fragmentary genesis, the generous-length EP was hands-down one of the most exciting creations to hit the hip-hop world in 2000, a veritable playground of innovative beats and equally exceptional lyrical dispatches from the progressive side of the prairie. The whole story is spun into gold on the record's finest track. How often are you able to describe a rap song as either beautiful or poignant? The mystical, longing "The Distance Song" is precisely both of those things. Speculative and soulful, with an undertow of sorrow, it encapsulates everything that is exciting about Oddjobs, and serves as a handy autobiographical summation of the psychic head space in which the group found itself at the time. It transforms life into art. And the song does, indeed, deserve such an elevated classification. But it's not the only flat-out great song on Absorbing Playtime -- "Oscillations at 40 Hz," "Liberal Arts," the title track, and "Fusebox" ("our resumé"), to take the most evident examples, all demand concentrated examination. There's something special going on here.

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