DJ Swamp

Never Is Now

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There are inherent problems that seem to plague all but the very best DJ and turntablist albums: Too many DJs seem content to let the (often repetitive) music play without adding original elements to the mix to spice it up, while too many turntablists seem more interested in showing off their prodigious skills than in creating memorable songs. DJ Swamp avoids both trappings by taking the middle ground between the two extremes on his debut release. Best-known for his four-year stint in Beck's band, Swamp was also the 1996 DMC national champion, known as much for his showstopping fondness for breaking records as for cutting and scratching them. His punk attitude isn't quite as evident here, but he does exhibit a raucous, genre-bending creative streak a mile wide. The opening "Ring of Fire" rides along on a dark Moog line and creepy synth undertones, with Swamp battle-rhyming like a white Ice-T, while "Worship the Robots" matches a percolating Kraftwerk sound with computerized rhymes that sound like Stephen Hawking getting funky fresh on the mic. The man's incredible turntable skills are readily apparent on instrumental cuts like "My Peaceful Hell" but, even then, Swamp is careful to mix in snatches of melody and memorable samples to provide something for listeners to grab onto. This is a fantastically inventive debut, like Beck and Mixmaster Mike co-producing an MC Paul Barman record. And yes, kids, that's a good thing....

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