Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Strange Journeys Volume One

by CunninLynguists

I've both admired and been frustrated by the CunninLynguists since I picked up their brilliant third album, 'A Piece of Strange'.

I love the way they combine Kno's layered and textured beats with Deacon's deep voice. When they write serious songs, they are among the best in the game.

What frustrates me (or, depending on who's in the car, embarrasses me) is their penchant for low-brow humour. I guess anyone that sees the group's name would expect some juvenile antics, but I find too often, they move to the lowest denominator.

This album/mix-tape tries to balance both sides of the group. Kno provides all of the beats, and they are gorgeous. They thoughtfully included the instrumentals to all of the new compositions here, and some of those are more likely to make it onto my ipod than the vocal tracks. Kno is one of the best producers in the industry, and he deserves a lot more attention than he gets.

Perhaps part of the problem is that the Lynguists (and friends - there are a lot of guests on this album) take a beautiful beat (like on 'Nothing But Strangeness') and sing about a girl who defecates so hard she breaks a toilet. 'Never Come Down (The Brownie Song)' is another example of a lovely track sullied by low intentions.

Once you edit through the toilet and drug humour, there are a lot of fantastic tracks on here. Former Lynguist Mr. SOS gives us 'Die For You', which works nicely with Tonedeff's 'The Distance'. From the Lynguists themselves, stand-outs include 'Don't Leave (When the Winter Comes)', which features Slug, and 'Broken Van (Thinking of You)' featuring Mac Lethal. Also notable are the remixes from Dirty Acres: 'Georgia', featuring Killer Mike and Khujo Goodie; and 'KKKY' featuring some of the Nappy Roots.

Apparently volume two is out - I'll have to look for that.

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