By: Pietro C. Truba
The Beastie Boys latest effort, The Mix Up (Capitol) finds the New York trio returning to their punk roots with their first album of entirely new instrumental tracks. Michael Diamond (Mike D), Adam Horowitz (Adrock) and Adam Yauch (MCA) all leave the mic and head back to the drum kit, guitar and bass, respectively, for 12 short funky tracks. Add percussionist Alfredo Ortiz and keyboardist Money Mark and you've got a funk band. There is an overwhelming feeling of a '70s detective movie soundtrack running through the album, and that is a very good thing.
"B For My Name" is like a surrogate child of the Mod Squad and wide-bush skin flicks, and like a great opening scene in a movie, starts the album off on the right foot. The songs are short and sweet, with most clocking in at around three-minutes. The influence of soul-jazz musician Jimmy Smith (the source of "Root Down") is apparent through the middle of the album, as Adrock's heavy fatback jazz guitar and Money Mark's bouncy keys carry many of the songs. "Off The Grid," possibly the best song here, starts off calmly enough, but slowly morphs and crashes full speed ahead with the whole band clicking beautifully.
The Beasties revisit their punk roots on "Suco De Tangerina," with a Clash style dub intro fueled by MCA's bass. Both "Electric Worm" and "Freaky Hijiki" are great jazzy tracks, despite fizzling out with odd endings. MCA's punchy bassline starts out "The Ratcage," which gnaws and scratches through a maze of sound. Fans of the compilation The In Sounds From The Way Out! will thoroughly enjoy the new instrumental material. The album is loose, quick and fun, and perfect with a great pair of headphones, where Ortiz's tiniest percussion tweaks and Adrock's guitar wahs come through crystal clear. While the album has a different feel than In Sounds it's in the same vein. It's good to see the Beastie's keep at instrumentals, including instrumental sets on the current tour. If you're looking for some new funk then this is the album for you.
JamBase | Big Apple
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