Friday, August 20, 2004

Big Dada/ Ninja tune

The Diplodocus is perhaps the most recognizable dinosaur of the late Jurassic period -- a large, lumbering herbivore characterized by its long neck and the distinct absence of any dexterity whatsoever. An unlikely guise then for the Florida-raised and Philly dwelling DJ who is characterized by a fluid, genre-bending dexterity that sees him embrace diverse sounds ranging from Baltimore, hip hop and funk to southern bounce, dancehall and assorted psychedelia.

Best known for being one half of the Hollertronix duo, his debut LP on Ninja tune/ Big Dada comes after a string of 12’ releases on the label and illustrates a mature and eclectic production style, perhaps forged from his days cutting up samples on an old Akai S20. Florida treads musical ground as expansive as the state itself--from the strings and dusty breaks of the David Axelrod-inspired “Big Lost” to the Jamaican dancehall “Diplo Rhythm” featuring Vybz Cartel, Sandra Melody and Pantera Os Danadinhos.

One of the strongest collaborations on the record comes with Martina Topley-Bird’s soft vocals on “Into the Sun”. It’s an unlikely downtempo amalgamation of said vocal talent, swirling Beatles Revolver-esque tape loops, all the while propelled by drums straight out of a booty bass track. An odd combination in theory, but here it simply works.

“Indian Thick Jawns” features an outstanding flow from Peace over a lumbering beat with a Talvin Singh-styled blend of intricate tabla percussion and synths, furthering the eclectic sound on the record. “Summer’s Gonna Hurt You”, originally featured on the Epistemology Suite 12’ release, is a psych gem featuring thick upright bass tones punctuated by sputtering lo-fi drum machine breaks and sampled, crooning vocals.

Though Florida does contain elements of the booty bass and crunk familiar to fans of his DJ sets, it also shows Diplo as a serious student of various genres of music, a devoted cratedigger and perhaps most noticeably, a producer with a classical composer's feel for development. It’s a stunning debut from the man with the endearing, though unlikely name.

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