Influence, the bastard. How do you know what to trust and what to reject? DJ Logic's beat-heavy leanings absorb all fodder on his third album, Zen of Logic. Dub, soul, jazz, blues, twangy guitar chords, afro-funk, spacey hip-hop -- all intertwined by Logic's skilled, timely scratching. Logic has, after all, joined forces with a Rainbow Coalition of forward-thinking artists, from Prince Paul and the Allman Brothers to John Mayer, Mos Def, B.B. King and Medeski, Martin & Wood. But there's not much here that hasn't been covered by other, better artists: Shadow, Beasties, Dan the Automator -- and they did this stuff years ago.
What Logic does manage is a sonic grab-bag of colorful sounds that make for a cohesive spin, granted expectations are null. Zen of Logic lacks exploration, leaves no trail, but creeps and flows wonderfully, right down to the chilled two-minute interludes, which actually feel necessary given the record's fickle ADD-isms. Nothing offends; too little remains once we've moved on.
When it's not burdened by mediocrity, Zen of Logic surprises. "Afro Beat" keeps a jazzy melody and organ groove intact over big, loose drums; "Smackness" is block party-turntablism that just feels right. "9th Ward Blues" is Dirty South revisited and updated. "Holding Down," the closer, steps off an Ultramagnetic spaceship and goes back home twitching and confused, frightened by the possibilities of what it saw.
But nagging throughout is the feeling that all of this would play much better live, that trying to replicate all the great things about finding and placing samples means losing the spontaneity and excitement of discovery. This would be hypnotizing to watch. Too bad we only get half the experience.
Label site: http://www.ropeadope.com/Band site: http://www.djlogic.com/
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