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DJ /rupture + Matt Shadetek - Solar Life Raft

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Artist: DJ /rupture + Matt Shadetek

Album: Solar Life Raft

Label: The Agriculture

Review date: Nov. 11, 2009


Matty G / Elizabeth Alexander / Lloop - "Layin in Bed / Overture:Watermelon City / Autumn Rain" (Solar Life Raft)


Nestled in the center of DJ/Rupture & Matt Shadetek’s dreamy, post-apocalyptic mixtape Solar Life Raft is "Laying In Bed, Overture: Watermelon City (Acapella), Autumn Rain," a striking poem by Elizabeth Alexander, perhaps best known to most of the world as the woman who read a poem at the inauguration of President Barack Obama. Quiet talk of pencils and hope, delivered in an slow steady meter and resigned tone, Alexander’s inaugural poem managed to suck some of the subzero air from the crowded plaza. With her contribution to Solar Life Raft, however, Alexander’s art and science are contextualized in a manner that would close the mouths of any Inauguration Day detractors:

Nestled in the center of DJ /rupture & Matt Shadetek’s dreamy, post-apocalyptic mixtape Solar Life Raft is "Laying In Bed, Overture: Watermelon City (Acapella), Autumn Rain," a striking poem by Elizabeth Alexander, perhaps best known to most of the world as the woman who read a poem at the inauguration of President Barack Obama. Quiet talk of pencils and hope, delivered in an slow, steady meter and resigned tone, Alexander’s inaugural poem managed to suck some of the subzero air from the crowded plaza. With her contribution to Solar Life Raft, however, Alexander’s art and science are contextualized in a manner that would close the mouths of any Inauguration Day detractors:

    "Did I see this yesterday? Did I dream this last night?
    Philadelphia is burning...
    When I first moved here
    I lived two streets over from Osage
    where it happened....
    How far could you see the flames?
    How long could you smell the smoke?
    O-sage is narrow, narrow like a movie set..."

Delivered with the same placidity as her national debut, but freed of the constraints of speaking to the whole world on such a momentous occasion, Alexander’s collaboration with Rupture, Matty G and Lloop reveals a parliament of fire and rage buried beneath her cleverly academic tenor and cadence. She places herself near the site of the MOVE firebombing of 1985 while Rupture and Co. play with double time loops of Curtis Mayfield’s "Give Me Your Love" from the soundtrack to Superfly. The result is about as sublime an intersection one will find between dubstep, poetry and racial politics.

Rupture and Shadetek’s decision to keep their mix largely between like-minded friends and mostly NYC acts no doubt lends Solar Life Raft its seamlessness. While many of the contributions seem to be dub/dubstep informed -- particularly tracks with Jahdan Blakkamore, whose debut from last month owed so much to Rupture & Shadetek’s production -- the voices manage to remain unique and essential, from the sad desperation of the female vocalist on Pumajaw’s "Buds" to the cacophony of Luc Ferrari’s "Archives Genetiquement Modifées," with each track doing its part to set the mood and tone for this hovercraft tour of a submerged city.

The dramatic arc occurs early in this sprawling tale, as the mix segues from Cardopusher’s "Green Disorder" to the Rupture/Shadetek original, "Underwater High Rise," a bubbling, moody mess of a pop song, reminiscent of Squeeze’s "Annie Get Your Gun" or something from Synchronicity if Tricky got a hold of it. Solar Lift Raft comes off more like a symphony than a mix, and the credit clearly belongs to Rupture and Shadetek, who selected the tunes, remixed many of them, and, after months of preparation, pulled it off in practically one take on three decks, with minimum of overdubs or edits; it’s not unlike the manner in which Rupture is known to DJ, without the assistance of samplers or drum machines. The flawless execution alone is enough to bring a listener -- without the help of the cryptic liner notes -- to the conclusion that this is the soundtrack for "a strange future, where youthful optimism and solar panels survive alongside dolphins in a drowned New York."

By Andy Freivogel

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