Creating Patterns

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While it may seem 4hero's Mark Mac and Dego have been looking in different directions since 1998's Two Pages, their twin visions of music aren't so very far from each other. During the three-year interim, Dego spearheaded the programming-heavy broken beat community around West London, while Mark Mac explored small-group jazz using fusion and jazz-funk as a springboard (the Ronnie Scott's scene). Though the workload on Creating Patterns is distressingly one-dimensional (not one track features both of them), Dego's rugged breakbeats never sound too synthetic to clash with all the acoustic instruments, and Mark Mac's tracks feature a wealth of independent-minded musicians as well as the half-machine, half-human drummer Luke Parkhouse. After a fine -- though rather long-winded -- opening jam, return guest Ursula Rucker turns in one of her finest performances on "Time," revealing much more emotion than usual and flitting gracefully between sung and spoken vocals. A promising collaboration with Jill Scott turns out flat, though two other groove iconoclasts -- Mark Murphy and Terry Callier -- were recruited for great tracks. Murphy appears on the evocative spoken word performance "Twelve Tribes" (virtually no one else could've pulled off these pseudo-mystical lyrics with the same authority), while Callier performs on a misty, somber "The Day of the Greys." The single "Les Fleur" is easily the most beautiful moment of the record, except this trilling, spring-like performance (by Carina Andersson) is an unbelievably similar remake of a song from Minnie Riperton's solo debut, Come to My Garden. While Creating Patterns doesn't hit the heights of the brilliant, sprawling Two Pages, it's definitely a tighter record, more effective as a statement of art and music-making. The result is 4hero's usual synthesis of old and new, artificial and organic, strange and familiar.

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