The Audience Approves
While known primarily for his work with renowned underground hip hop super-group, Jurassic 5, lionized fusion outfit, Ozomatli, and the iconic DJ Shadow, Cut Chemist has easily made a name for himself as scratch master extraordinaire. With that type of cachet, it was only a matter of time until the acclaimed DJ left the mother’s nest a celebrated collaborator and spread his wings – or should I say tables – taking the plunge into the world of solo artist-dom and giving us his major label debut, The Audience’s Listening.What sets The Audience’s Listening apart from other DJ-inspired albums is Cut Chemist’s ability to produce sample-heavy, scratched songs and arrange generally safe, full-length compositions. “Motivational Speaker” is a perfect example of Chemist’s turntablist persona as he cuts and pastes various Cold War era-sounding sound bites with 1950s instructional reels creating a logical sequence of lyrics. But Chemist also appeals to the nontraditional DJ-music fan with songs such as the crisp, jazzy “2266 Cambridge” and the bossa nova “The Garden.” The latter is truly a standout on which Chemist reinterprets Baden Powell’s “Berimbau” lacing it with eastern tinged strings and layering in a silky, dreamy sequence. Others have brilliantly reconstructed “Berimbau” – take, for instance, the rare Golden Boys version on Gilles Peterson’s Gilles Peterson in Brazil – and Chemist’s adaptation is up there with the best of them. For the hip hop aficionados, “Storm” and “What’s the Altitude” keep the party going with a mix electronics and emcee assistance by Mr. Lif and Hymnal, respectively.
The Audience’s Listening is proof of Cut Chemist’s versatility – his ability to appeal to both die-hard fans of the DJ Shadows and Kid Koalas of the world, yet reach out to the more occasional listener of mixed music. Cut Chemist proves that he is good enough to hold his own as a one-man-act and gives the listener (new and old) a glimpse into the crates of ideas spinning around inside the DJ’s mind.