Sixtoo – graffiti artist and instrumental hip-hop producer extraordinaire takes a step back from hip-hop with this, his first album on Ninja Tune. For Ninja, this marks a welcome return to the more experimental outlook of early Vadim and Amon Tobin output for the label.
Sixtoo encompasses a range of influences here – there’s notions of Anticon’s awkward pseudo psychedelic-rock, and references to Ninja Tune’s jazz roots – but not in a “lite” or drippy way – it’s full of depth and intensity. Live instruments play an important role and hip-hop beats are stripped to the bare bones and constructed from live drum sounds.
This is an almost cinematic album – a slow, sober mood flows throughout but there’s a lot to take in along the way, from ‘Boxcutter Emporium Pt 2’s band saw like synth, to the warm, perfectly produced bass sound and evocative hint of melody in ‘Boxcutter Emporium Pt 3’. It enters an electronic territory with the glitchy beats of ‘Old Day’s Architecture’ and ‘Storm Clouds & Silver Linings’.
The guitar led ‘Chainsaw Breakfast’ gives us a hard-hitting 70s cop drama interlude. ‘Horse Drawn Carriage’ follows – with its bursts of vocal, a mournful tone and evocative melodies in electric and acoustic guitar, this track really captures the spirit of the whole album. The Rhodes piano plays a starring role in ‘The Honesty Of Constant Human Error’, giving a psychedelic, retrospective edge to a modern instrumental track.
The vocals on this album appear distorted and in short chunks, low in the mix, they’re treated as part of the instrumental. The vast array of influences makes it impossible to describe ‘Chewing On Glass And Other Miracle Cures’ simply as hip-hop. Besides, to pigeonhole it as instrumental hip-hop would be to imply that it’s lacking – there’s no need for an MC to carry Sixtoo’s carefully sculpted creations, they’re more than complete on their own.