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Shadow Huntaz - Instrumentals

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Artist: Shadow Huntaz

Album: Instrumentals

Label: Skam

Review date: Jun. 30, 2006

This double-disc set, packaged in minimalist no-art style, is an instrumental release of two previous Shadowhuntaz albums, Corrupt Data and Valley of the Shadow. Stripping the MCs from hip-hop albums, no matter how left-field, is a sketchy proposition: music constructed as the foundation for verbal flow is just that, and when the vocals are gone that is often too apparent. Any producer knows that the priorities shift dramatically when a track is being constructed as an instrumental piece.

These Shadowhuntaz albums, though, are particularly conducive to going it alone. The tracks here could be used to play connect-the-dots between hip-hop and jungle; many could be the bastard offspring of, say, El-P and Goldie, Boom Bip and Autechre. The mood here is claustrophobic, dense layers of sound atop beats ranging from slow and simple ("Y") to skittering drum-and-bass style ("Power Divine" and "Solsa").

The most obvious thing here is the cinematic feel. Almost all of these tracks could be dropped into a film to good effect, especially the hermetic pieces in the first half of Valley of the Shadow. They'd be ideal for a slow-moving film set at night, preferably in a post-apocalyptic landscape with murderous zombies. Or robots.

The songs are filled with futuristic synths, burbling bass, humming electronics and attention-getting symphonic hits. See the poorly-named but excellent "That Aint Were Its @" as an example particularly worthy of note. Occasionally some voices do make it through, like the cut-up muttering in "Medic.”

While the superior beats and imaginative sound effects make these instrumentals easily able to stand on their own, it must be said that two discs, nearly two hours, is a bit much to take in one sitting. These songs work very well shuffled in amidst a playlist, or as ominous background for a night of reading horror novels.

By Mason Jones

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Corrupt Data

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