Oddjobs

Drums

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AllMusic Review by

At the time Oddjobs settled into recording its first mature full-length, the members of the newly reformulated quintet (with the official addition of longtime colleague Nomi) were still but a few years removed from being teenagers. Nevertheless, they had carried their lunch pails to the daily hip-hop grind for more than half a decade, and Drums proved that they had learned a great deal during the extended gestation phase. Having finally relocated in total to New York, the group nicely split the difference and closed the gap between Minnesota and Brooklyn with the album. The three MCs retained their relaxed Twin Cities flows, and many of the lyrical concerns are tied to their original terrain, yet much of the music has a decidedly blue smoke, basement vibe and is built around a core of deeply percussive urban rhythms. The latter quality no doubt partly derives from the seepage of the sounds and sensations of their adopted home into Deetalx and Anatomy's beats. (The production duo, anyway, had always owed something of a debt to the aesthetics of the golden era Big Apple rap records of the early '90s.) In any event, they crafted an exceptional backdrop of liquid tracks that fluidly fuse live musicianship and nimble sampler experimentation. That skill landed "Blue Collar Holler" on the alternative radio charts, and the single was a hit for good reason. It is a masterpiece of shifting textures and tonalities, and its roll call of working-class livelihoods plays like a funky Midwestern manifesto. From there, Drums brilliantly roams through a broad range of styles, from cunning metaphysical puzzles ("Time Flies") and dark, speculative meditations ("Dry Bones," "Naked City," the magnificent bonus track "Gospel (Encore)") to regatta de blanc ("Shore") and sweaty street-corner odes ("The Backstroke," "Hit Em With a High"). The centerpiece of the record, however, is the three-part aural delirium of "Dream for Molle." With its vistas of somber psychedelia, it is a gorgeous extension of DJ Shadow's astral explorations, and it sends the album out into previously unmapped territory. Drums is one of the freshest, most impressive rap releases of 2002.

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