Remember those improvisational jam sessions on the kitchen floor back in the di-zay? You and your brother and sisters would bust out noise of the freakiest kind: Speak and Spell blips and bleeps, a banged-up beat on Mom’s copper-bottomed Revere Ware, and Braille-bumped 45s scratchin’ it up on your plastic Fisher-Price. Picture Pages is on the tube in the living room. You’ve collectively finished the entire contents of that tasty orange flavored Triaminic syrup. Yummy, sweet nostalgia.
Anyone who has ever basked in the bliss of youthful flute-a-phone abandon will be diggety-delighted now that Hexstatic is steering the second installment in the Ninja Tune Solid Steel mix CD series towards astral planes of cool ass shit. Listen & Learn is a smooth, skillful blend that will rock you. With a strong kitsch factor and a full-flavored down beat to dig on, you’ll be whistling “Funky Kingston” and hollering for more.
It’s cool to see logic at work in music. The fusion of spacey lounge jazz, prime-cut funk, and home-grown Hexstatic highlights stand out as individually tight tracks from the likes of Monophone and Ike and Tina Turner, but maintain the fluid motion one would expect from a mix master’s finely-tuned project. Sound bite snippets of Trekkie dialogue and robotic samples segue time signature changes that flow from all-time ska favorite Toots and the Maytals to Stonebridge’s acid “Jazzy John’s Dub.” Skills, baby. The resulting sound is complete, refined and electrolicious, a perfectly resolved, reggae rocked compilation of systematically hip, kick-back sounds rooted in applied physics. It’s quite nifty.
To pull this off is by no means an easy task (remember the art of the mix tape?), but Robin and Stuart do it well, and you gotta give it up for them. They are the Pythagorean prop masters of the funky-body-rocking party. The formula works, and “when they write it’s tight.” So pull up your tube socks, roll on a couple sweatbands and see if you can find that cherry Casio with the salsa track. You may feel compelled to rock out with these guys like ya used to.