There’s a scene in the film Stand by Me in which a family sits eating dinner. Older brother Denny brags to his parents about the short stories younger brother Gordie has been writing. But the boys’ parents are only interested in Denny, the star football player.
It’s a scene that may highlight how many regard Oh No (born Michael Jackson) and his older brother Madlib (born Otis Jackson Jr.). Oh No’s sophomore release, last year’s Exodus Into Unheard Rhythms, helped Oh No forge an identity of his own, but what made that record powerful was the cohesion of its source material. But Dr. No’s Oxperiment seems to be constantly searching for its own direction, tossing together sounds as diverse as psych, jazz, funk and folk, and doing so with mixed results.
None of its twenty-eight tracks hit the two-minute mark. What we’re left with are brief musical ideas, or oxperiments — both good and bad. For every great track, like the guitar masterpiece "Heavy" or the breakbeat hysteria of "Breakout," there are awkward ones, such as "Gladius" or "My Luck," where motifs never quite mesh. It all indicates that Oh No can craft an excellent record — but he would benefit from more focus than the blunted style Madlib has already perfected.