When infamous abstract electronica label Warp started its hip-hop branch, known as Lex Records, one hoped that the same A&R sophistication that had brought the world Aphex Twin and Autechre would shine some light on the experimental realm of hip-hop, giving music lovers a much-needed break from the eternal cycle of redundant beat-making that seems to seismically shift every three to four years, only to suffer from unbearable stagnation in between. Listening to the beats on DJ Signify's debut release, there are moments of terrific innovation, but equal amounts of utterly dated trip-hop dirge. The opener, "Fly Away," is not a good start, groaning like vintage Mo' Wax for the first four minutes. But then the coda kicks in with a wickedly upbeat scratch-up of Latin samba samples, making you believe that everything is going to be all right. This method of tease and withdraw becomes the premise of the entire record, meaning that the distinctive jack-step beat of "Haunted House Party" gives way to an all-too-familiar Eminem cadence, which is particularly disheartening given the hope that MCs Buck 65 and Sage Francis would come up with something a little more original. But listeners shouldn't hold this completely against Signify and company. It has been proven again and again that hip-hop, much like evolution, goes through long periods of stasis with sporadic fits of change. The Lex roster still remains well ahead of the curve.
Sleep No More Review
by Joshua Glazer