Late last year someone pointed me at this single released by an Atlanta hip-hop act. Yes, hip-hop. We don't normally review that style of music, but i had expressed my fondness for the DJ collage work of DJ Shadow and was pointed towards The Difference Machine as someone doing something vaguely similar.
The Difference Machine is a collaboration between a rapper who calls himself DT, a producer named Dr. Conspiracy, and a DJ named DJ Grizzly. Grizzly and Conspiracy are doing some pretty cool things. The music is typified by big, booming drum loops, a lot like the denser moments on Endtroducing, but there are also lots of layers of other sounds going on. Let's look at the songs.
First up we have the title track of the single, Futuristic Blast (Dirty Version). It starts with a whining keyboard bit and thudding drums, then Grizzly goes crazy with the scratching, just tearing up the records. Then DT comes in and the song staggers along as he spits out his lyrics amid a stream of profanity. I guess the sheer number of F-bombs this guy drops in a little over two and half minutes is why this is the "dirty version". But unnecessary profanity aside, this is pretty cool (but not pretty f*cking cool). The music at its head bopping pace is pretty interesting.
But the single gets better. The next track is the instrumental New Pharaoh. This is really interesting, consisting of a layer of a big drum sample booming and clattering over a faint vocal sample, almost like the call to prayer heard in the distance. Alongside this, there are some eerie sounding keyboards. It's a really neat mix.
The next track, They Want To Make You Disappear is equally interesting, with Dr. Conspiracy bringing a bit of Dälek-style darkness to the mix. This features similar drums to the previous tracks (lots of kick in these sample loops), but here they are looped a little slower and combined with a chugging guitar loop that reminds me of local act Deku. At the end, it gets even weirder, the last few seconds after the drums part and there are just strange layers of voices and keyboards and guitar sliding against one another. Fascinating.
Up next is the instrumental version of the title track. Strip out the rap, and, well, it does feel like something is missing here. It's not bad through - the lack of voice lets the music shine through. And finally we have the clean version of that same track. In this mix, the vocal layer of the song goes silent during the F bombs while the rest of the music just moves along. That sounds kind of weird to me, like part of the song is skipping in and out. Is this how hip-hop normally deals with censoring songs? Odd.
Overall, i think there are some interesting things going on here, specifically in the B-sides. I would be curious to hear more from Dr. Conspiracy and DJ Grizzly.