Skopic

Skopic

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The private recording space (whether it's Prince's state-of-the-art home studio or Max Braverman's college apartment) isn't always the most conducive environment to creative brilliance. The problem isn't usually a lack of creativity -- it's too often the artist's inability to be discriminating about his own work. Prince's highest concentration of brilliance has come about when he's worked with bandmates who can let him know when his ideas aren't as great as they seemed to him at first blush; his most embarrassing excesses have occurred when he's all by himself. So when a lesser mortal than Prince decides to enter the marketplace with a homegrown, almost entirely unassisted solo album, there's good reason to be concerned. Against the odds, though, Max Braverman's debut is absolutely brilliant -- creative, a little crazy, but tight and disciplined, and informed by an eye that is always fixed firmly on the groove and the clever sonic, rhythmic, or melodic hook. Recording under the name Skopic, Braverman delivers an eponymous debut album that features almost as many different flavors and textures as it has tracks: on "Verbatim," a queasy 6/4 rhythm combines messily with musique concrète and languid trip-hop before sliding off into jungle territory; "Salivate for Salvation" blends found-sound vocals and greasy slide guitar with muscular instrumental hip-hop; "Tommy Is Dead" takes what sounds like an old anti-drug PSA and sets it to a dark, dubby groove that could have come out of Bill Laswell's studio circa 1995. There are 15 tracks of this stuff, each of them different from the last, all of them brilliant in varying degrees. Bring on the remixes.

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