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Infinite Livez vs. Stade - Art Brut Fe de Yoot

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Artist: Infinite Livez vs. Stade

Album: Art Brut Fe de Yoot

Label: Ninja Tune

Review date: Aug. 2, 2007

“Few edits, no overdubs.” Such a tag can be found in the liner notes on a slew of experimental electronic collaborations, live recordings and improvised noise excursions, a trend that prides itself in the spirit of the moment, the possibilities of the unknown and the euphoria that can occur when the two sync up. Especially in the realm of noise and wild electronics, an artist’s ability to produce a noteworthy work of on-the-spot manipulations often takes precedent over an involved recording process of accumulated ideas and layered tracks. Such is the appeal of improvisation – rooted in the experience and wholly dependent on a compelling performance that cannot be repeated.

With that kind of intro, it might seem odd that this review concerns the sophomore full-length from London-based weirdo emcee Infinite Livez (a.k.a. Vinnie Tiefilz), though wholly relevant in context of his collaboration here with Swiss electronic duo Stade (comprised of Pierre Audétat and Christophe Calpini). Operating somewhere between the improv/avant-garde side of freestyle, jazz, electronica and stand-up comedy, Art Brut Fe de Yoot strives to mash them all in a zany hip hop context, a melting pot of circuit bent grooves and echoing wails stirred by a deranged three-headed creature. Those that were lured in by Tiefilz’ abstract raps and loony production on his 2004 debut, Bush Meat, will still find a similar unhinged charm, but this time around it takes a much different form.

Given that Art Brut is the result of studio jam sessions between the three musicians – involving Stade’s pre-programmed samples triggered at will underneath Tiefliz’ effect-laden vocals – it’s obvious that this isn’t your typical hip hop album. The emphasis here is an improvisational experiment into the genre, a step up from the emcee/deejay relationship, bound head-first into the digital age.

In a way, it’s a bit saddening to see the full-fledged cartoon tirades of Bush Meat give way to a much sparser delivery, shedding cohesive hip-hop hooks for the more abstract vocal approach here (phonetically, not semantically). But Tiefilz hasn’t lost his sense of humor, evident in titles like “Confessions of a White Backing Band” and lines about evil geniuses and an obsession with a “web cam woman.” Off-color humor is where Tiefilz shines the most, championing out-there lyrics and their subsequent pitch-shifted meltdown. “Artyfartypartynazi” is one of the more successful outings on the album, sounding like a crunked-up field trip to outer space, one where Paul Wall gets chopped and screwed by hand puppets that prefer psychedelics to booty. Vinnie’s vocal exasperation in “Right Here, Right Now” best exemplifies the desired effect from the improvisational aspect, building slowly as he tacks words onto the end of an attempted sentence in between gasps, augmented by a stumbled bass line that finally gives way to a high-stepping climax.

While Stade’s stuttered samples come through loud and clear, Vinnie’s vocals are evidence of the outing’s off-the-cuff nature, often falling behind in search of something to say. Sometimes he has the words ready for dispatch, but other times we find the emcee rolling his tongue or wailing incoherently to fill up space, as seen in the album’s opener, “(^_^)ZZZ.” Such is the biggest downside of the album – waiting for the pearls among the de-emphasis on editing.

That doesn’t mean that Art Brut is entirely lacking in cohesion, or that it needs to be condemned for its aims. Instead, the album is still entertaining for the oddity of the arrangements and the maddened snickers that drip out from the corners. The flaws are definitely here, sticking out sorely among the high spots. But at least the trio wears them on their sleeves proudly, acknowledging the pitfalls of spontaneous collaboration while exalting the benefits.

By Cole Goins

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