Saturday, July 25, 2009
Saturday Spin: Metaform "Standing on the Shoulders of Giants"
While DJ Shadow single handedly created and ended the hip hop inspired, sample based instrumental album with his epic masterpiece Endtroducing you can't knock guys for trying and every now and then those attempts yield something not quite on par but still strikingly beautiful.
Such is the case with the traveling beat creator, record collector Metaform. Like those before him he has a vast knowledge of music and must spend an inordinate amount of time in dusty basements and smelly broke down shops (or maybe he does it all from the comfort of his studio – it is 2009, how many people are still dedicated to the art of diggin?) questing for that rare gem that will make the world right for a moment.
But on top of his ear for sounds to flip Metaform is a multi instrumentalist who crafts an eclectic mix of sounds into something wholly listenable from beginning to end. Standing on the Shoulders of Giants will catch you off guard as it's not quite as Hip Hop as something from the likes of Shadow or RJD2 but yet completely born out of the culture that spawned those and others of their ilk. You will hear soul samples. You will hear electronic and new wave sounds. You will hear folk like guitars. You will hear weak drums that rappers would never spit on. You will hear smooth melodies and dusty record cracklings that NY area dudes circa the early 90s would fiend for. In short you will hear a bit of everything. Even some live horns.
I suppose this amalgamation of sounds is appropriate though as we continue to see Hip Hop step out of the box that was so tightly defined for so long and begin a new journey. Metaform migrates between L.A., S.F. and Tokyo and it shows. So does the fact that he lays it all down in his own home studio (aptly referred to as “The Boom Box”). You wouldn't find the attention to detail on something that was cooked up on the fly in a traveling studio rig, but you might find the globe trotting cross genre influences inspiring new sounds and new ideas. Metaform has synthesized all of his constant movement into one coherent piece of music that is at times sporadic and at times very good. It might not get the party started but it just might be perfect for a late night bus ride in the dark city streets. Or maybe even for a sweat filled club of open minded music fans. The B-Boys might even find something to pop and lock to, he does loop the infamous “Apache” break under about 10 other samples of varying degrees of move ability.
"I Feel Good"
But that is part of the genius of Standing on the Shoulders of Giants; with all of this going on how could any of it actually be enjoyable. But it is. He lowers the decibels when needed of one sound and sprinkles in his own playing generously. Bangs on his MPC (or some other sample triggering device), and might even play some live drums too. He keeps you curious and has a vast library of sounds (and some great selections of vocal snippets) to keep you wondering what might come next. And capturing the audiences ear is half the battle.