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V/A - Open Up and Say…@<%_|^[!]

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Artist: V/A

Album: Open Up and Say…@<%_|^[!]

Label: Tigerbeat6

Review date: Aug. 19, 2003

Wasn't That the Name of a Poison Record?

On the whole, label samplers are a pretty blasé affair. You take a bunch of tracks from current releases, slap ‘em together, and then retail the whole thing for five or six bucks. For the uninitiated it’s a pretty good way to figure what you may or may not like from a given record company. But for the serious music geek, they offer little in terms of enticing you to plunk down your hard-earned change for what could very well be a disc littered with stuff you already have. Open Up and Say…@<%_|^[!] tries to straddle the line between budget-priced affordability and reeling in those already down with the latest Oakland label Tigerbeat6 has to offer. Scattered across twenty-four tracks are numerous cuts already out in various other forms, some forthcoming tracks, and some shit that might never see the light of day elsewhere. Think of it as TB6’s venture into the mixtape arena. On the plus, it costs about the same, you get a higher killer-to-filler ratio, and it has more jams per second than any recent tapes by Kay Slay or Clue (for real). On the down, there’s no rap and you can’t get a three-for-twelve deal as if you bought it on, you know, “the street.”

Everything here is loosely aligned under the banner of “vocal tracks,” which is both a good and a bad thing. For the most part, the disc manages to nab a great track or two from recent full-lengths and EPs from the likes of The Bug, Max Tundra, The Rip-Off Artist, Com.a, Dwayne Sodahberk, Zeigenbock Kopf, Stars As Eyes, Electric Company, and Numbers. The only major negative to this tactic is that vocal numbers don’t best represent a lot of these cats. Pretty much all of these discs have been reviewed elsewhere on this site, so as opposed to being redundant, you can feel free to flip through our archives to check out these releases in a more comprehensive manner.

With the sampling out of the way, the rest of the disc is devoted to cuts that are either immediately forthcoming or just bonus batter completely. Dynasty’s “You’ve Got Problems” (produced by none other than Gold Chains) sounds kind of like an update of the whole Prince/Vanity 6 connection filtered through a Teutonic blast of post-punk. In that vein as well, Numbers’ new one “Disease” picks up right where Death left off, matching a disco beat against a squalling guitar and the resonant thump of an organ line. Total Shutdown’s “Pond” is a shocker coming from the Tigerbeat crew, eschewing any post-ironic dance beats in favor of straight-up doom-laden thrashcore.

There are other great tracks scattered across the disc, too. DJ /rupture’s “Bonechip” takes King Honey’s original “Trinity” into more claustrophobic territory, amping the beats and slicing the vocals to great effect, while Knifehandchop applies a thick layer of digital crunk and squealing synths with “Transition Emotion”. Kid606’s “Titanium” is solid as well, all mid-tempo march to match his over the top electronics and disembodied chorus. On a different note, Stars As Eyes’ “Settled” explores more downtempo acoustics and electronics with excellent results. And Dwayne Sodahberk’s “The Agreeing Song” is pretty nifty too, matching plaintive sing-song vocals with a hard-ass beat.

The only real downside to this disc is that the best tracks (The Bug and Daddy Freddy’s furious “Politicians and Paedophiles”, along with both songs from Max Tundra) have seen release on great full-lengths already this year. There are also a couple stinkers here, too. Cex’s “Stillnaut Rjyan” sounds like a letdown (i.e. lo-tech Marilyn Manson – from the forthcoming Maryland Mansions, no less), especially coming off the great Being Ridden discs on Temporary Residence. Even more frustrating, the cut nicked from the Numbers remix record (courtesy of Caro) is nowhere near as good as the rad Dymaxion joint on that thing. And the sample-crazy plunderphonics of Original Hamster’s “Hamsta My Dear” lose steam halfway through.

For those unfamiliar with the Tigerbeat 6 goods, this is as fine a disc as any to check out as it gives a pretty nice look at what this camp has to offer. It’s probably also decent for those completists out there who feel a need to pad their collections with another disc. But for any serious fans of the artists contained herein, you’re probably better off waiting for the new crop of full-lengths to hit the shelves or just going back over the grooves on your old discs. All in all, a great collection littered with one too many non-exclusives to make it absolutely essential.

By Michael Crumsho

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