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DJ /rupture - Special Gunpowder

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Artist: DJ /rupture

Album: Special Gunpowder

Label: Tigerbeat6

Review date: Jan. 11, 2005

Boston-raised DJ /rupture (a.k.a. Jace Clayton now residing in Barcelona, like aesthetically-minded counterpart Scott Herren) recorded his astonishing 2002 mix Gold Teeth Thief in two takes. Essentially a live mix tape for a few friends, his decision to post it on his Web site as a free download lead to his eventual (relative) eruption. He followed that with his Tigerbeat6 debut Minesweeper Suite another masterful multicultural mix, and possibly the last truly seminal release of its type. But those who turn to Clayton for their mach-paced yet oblique post-dub may be a little shook by his latest, Special Gunpowder.

No longer strapped with three 1200s, the insurgent tablist returns to unite aural diasporas by producing, recording, engineering and arranging everything on the record. While not a complete departure for Clayton (20 percent of his mixes were his own pieces), the tone on Special Gunpowder is a bit less stimulating; it’s not a complete surprise considering the spontaneity of live mixing was replaced by thorough studio tinkering, but it’s still a little awkward to hear these songs fade out completely the first few listens.

Rupture’s preference and keen ear for a range of choice music (and now guest voices) is still present. Spanning three languages – English, Spanish, French – Gunpowder was recorded with Arabic and Western musicians in Barcelona and blends pulsating breaks, dancehall, North African music, avant hip-hop, noise, musique concrete, spoken word, ragga and folk. Clayton, like Herren on Apropa't, fuses ethnicities into an album that is remarkably less jarring than his past work.

Opener “Overture: Watermelon City” coughs up a bent-out-of-shape sax phrase that could have been lifted from a scene in Kool G. Rap’s “Streets of New York.” Depicting Philly in a similar vein as that song does the boroughs, Elizabeth Alexander speaks easy about a cat named Ukee “because as a baby he looked like a eucalyptus leaf” but lacks microphone presence. The opposite can be said for Sister Nancy’s spirited take on “Little More Oil” as she personifies America (El-P’s “Patriotism” anyone?) while Kid 606 helps keep disorder. The same goes for Wicked Act’s vocal assault over the Heat Sensor-like drum fissure of “No Heathen (blacksmith mix).” “Bonechip” suggests a less terrifying/higher-fidelity Enduser, with ricocheting riddims bouncing off echo-flexing emcees.

Three late high points include the violin n’ bass instrumental “Taqasim,” “Osaka-Ku Memory Depot’s” stuttering piano chords and splayed guitar, and the Vadimish “Je Suis Le Peuple Sans Visage” with Arnaud Michniak depicting the backdrop in French as “the sound of a coma.” Ending with what plays like a lost 78 from Harry Smith’s collection, “Mole in the Ground’s” plucked banjo acts as a bed of pine needles for Sindhu Zagoren’s confessions: “I wish I was a lizard in the spring … I’d make those mountains sing.”

Coming off as less the sum of its parts than his mixes, the record isn’t as brash and lacks flow (the grating Eugene Robinson appearance does nothing to help this), but it does continue /rupture’s deeply personal development and his take on the music of varying and disparate cultures.

By Jake O'Connell

Other Reviews of DJ /rupture

Minesweeper Suite


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View all articles by Jake O'Connell

Find out more about Tigerbeat6

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