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Kid606 - The Action Packed Mentalist Brings You the Fucking Jams

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Artist: Kid606

Album: The Action Packed Mentalist Brings You the Fucking Jams

Label: Violent Turd

Review date: May. 20, 2002

Considering the exponential growth of "mash-up" hype and the severe offline unavailability of any of the genre's actual songs, it would seem that Kid606's new album, The Action Packed Mentalist Brings You the Fucking Jams could make a nice critical centerpiece. The album, released on the mysteriously not-so-mysterious Violent Turd imprint, contains dirty electro dropped perfectly below hit vocal tracks from the past and the present. The vocal tracks (taken from the likes of D12, Missy Elliot, the Bangles, the Buggles, Bikini Kill, Jay-Z and many more) are all uncredited, uncleared and seemingly illegal, and the songs employ the same initial shock value contained in most instaclassic mashes. The young and smart-assed Kid606 could make a perfect spokesman -- a Johnny Rotton of sorts -- for this generally illicit and underground movement, and The Action Packed Mentalist's relative availability could make for a fine domestic gateway into Europe's hottest new genre. The problem with all of this, however, is that it is not really a mash-up album at all, and to call it as such greatly discredits Kid606. Although the novelty of hearing, for example, Eminem rap over something other than his normally tame beats is fun, it is Kid606's explosive beats and vocal treatment that makes The Action Packed Mentalist so worthwhile.

Kid606 takes a page from labelmate Cex's book with the first song's title, "Sometimes I Thank God I Can't Sing Because Than No One Can Blame Me for Anything." Its hollow arrhythmic swirl is similar to much of his Mille Plateaux release, PS I Love You, but as metallic grind overtakes the swirl Kid606 ushers out any thoughts of repetition. With a few exceptions, the remainder of The Action Packed Mentalist… is some of Kid606's poppiest work yet. "MP3 Killed the CD Star" begins like a typical electro-trashdance song but sampled harmonica quickly ushers in the first "guest vocalist," Eminem, whose double-speed vocals fly by incoherently, punctuated by occasional digital chops (care of Kid606). Kid606's production is uncharacteristically dancey, usually containing a single repeating bass tone accompanied by quick 4/4 bass and snare beats. The album plays much like an extended club mix of sorts. The beats rarely break or stop and their subtle changes tend to be obscured by the much more noticeable vocal sample changes.

The sampled vocals come from club hits of many eras as Kid606 gives the 2005 techno treatment to everything from "Walk Like and Egyptian" to "Big Pimpin'." While the success of mash-ups points to the synergy that results from the combination of two recognizable songs, Kid606 seems to suggest that the future of dance hits does not so much lie in the ability to combine old songs, but rather in the ability to modernize them. Not everything is danceable per se. His take on Soul II Soul's "Back to Life" builds slowly, adding intriguing tension to an otherwise cheesy song. The full-on Kid606-Soul II Soul collaboration is fleeting and quickly breaks into a medium-tempo electronic pop song reminiscent more of Boards of Canada than any of his own work. Before it has time to linger and noodle about the catchy tune it quickly shifts to a dub beat which leads right into "Walk Like an Egyptian." At times The Action Packed Mentalist… feels like a remix portfolio or resume for Kid606 -- how many types of remix can he master? -- but it works nicely to his credit as his treatments rarely falter.

These treatments are not impeccable, however, and the album closes on a somewhat weaker note (but not necessarily an absolutely weak one). The hilariously titled "Smack My Glitch Up" lacks the manic insanity that served so well to spice up the first five tracks and drags on lazily; a party-ender, but not a party-starter. The last song, "This is Not My Statement," spends 13 minutes working around and destroying a cheesy a cappella version of Radiohead's "Creep." The destruction, unfortunately, occurs in spite of the song rather than about it, and kills the little momentum that remained on the album. It is not horrendous, nor is it a spoiler, but its lazy fuzz is certainly incongruous and disappointing given the caliber and energy put into the album's first 3/4, and may have been better served on Kid606's next Mille Plateaux release. Or not.

Those in search of a truly accessible Kid606 album will only be partially satisfied by The Action Packed Mentalist Brings You the Fucking Jams, as will those seeking an entry-level mash-up album. However to those who fully appreciate the Tigerbeat6 mission statement, however vague it may be, it should fully satisfy as a step in an exciting, and totally new direction. The noisy chaos that broke Down With the Scene was nowhere to be seen (or heard) on its follow-up, PS I love You and neither seem to bare more than trace influences on this latest album. Its another step in a new direction, and one that will probably never be repeated, at least not by Kid606. While Johnny Rotton certainly achieved fame and recognition for his smart-assed antics, he was never clever enough to vary them. Clearly Kid606's wise-assed punkisms are quite subtle, but they are quite potent as well, and this latest one is sure to leave quite a mark.

By Sam Hunt

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