Review ·

Some argue that Blueprint is better off as an emcee than a producer. Last year his insightful reporting graced Soul Position's 8 Million Stories, and alongside RJD2, he helped craft one of the best records of 2003. Earlier this year he provided big, psychedelic beats for Illogic's Celestial Clockwork, which didn't get the attention Soul Position got but made waves as another talked-about release from Print's Weightless label. With Chamber Music, his debut instrumental album, Blueprint revisits some of the dark and dramatic ideas he developed for Illogic. Even if it isn't wholly earth-rattling, the album has many moments of grand experimentation and expertise.

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The beats are the main focus, but the guest emcees will shave off no points; in all instances, they bring gold to the table. Aesop Rock hides behind Print's creepy horror movie score that's loaded with vocal delay and machine noises. Illogic takes on two songs, Vast Aire delivers Can Ox-worthy dis all over his outing, and Blueprint assumes vocal duties for one of the album's strongest numbers. In a sea of violin, ride cymbals and harp, Print's vocal manifestations about his remixing, beat-making and rhyming take priority on a bleak and hypnotic passage. The hypnosis continues in Blueprint's focused instrumental works.

Just as he had for Illogic's "First Trimester," Print mines prog-rock organ sounds to accompany his sometimes hair-raising compositions. Rarely does he suggest dance-floor antics, opting instead for daring, dreary hip-hop instrumental acid trips. The samples are decorated with stoned echo effects, and spacey female vocal snippets show up here and there, even increasing an already unsettling tone on a successful bonus track. A couple of numbers slip into the background, but these brief shortcomings stand out because Print is in tough company this year, which saw a number of heavy-hitting beat records. If every track isn't up to par, it's noticeable. But Blueprint has nothing to prove. He's as electric behind the sampler as he is in front of the mike, pushing his psychedelic instrumental hip-hop out of the Weightless online store and into the hands of record buyers.

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Snippets from 'Chamber Music'

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