Dabrye, Two/Three (2006)
Tadd Mullinix’s first Dabrye album, 2001’s One/Three, is wonderfully clipped micro-hop, full of light computer beats. But Two/Three is far more sophisticated. On “Piano,” he slides a sample of a cascading bass lick over panoply of keyboard notes, while a stream of ambient noise runs underneath it all. “Machines Pt. 1” takes it back to the early 80s with synthesizer handclaps and hard synth punches; “Machines Pt. II” is the same beat, except half as fast. Dabrye follows his early formula on only a handful of Two/Three’s 20 tracks, particularly the lovely “Bloop.” He utilizes several rappers, from established heroes like DOOM (who gets to rhyme over the haunted house theatrics of “Air”) and Beans to new and promising figures like Kadence. On “That’s What’s Up,” where Cannibal Ox-er Vast Aire brags about “freestyle pimpin’,” he crafts a Jaegermeister melody of tickled keys that invokes drunkenly good times. For “Get It Together,” a fast rap featuring Invincible and Finale, he drums out an old-school beat worthy of Marley Marl and the 45 King. As good as some of its rap cuts are, however, Two/Three’s primary weakness stems from a disjointed sound, the inevitable product of so many sous chefs in the kitchen. Its ebb and flow stemmed by sometimes-awkward leaps between instrumental and vocal tracks, Two/Three doesn’t peak with a remarkable climax, instead cutting off after the modest delights of “Game Over,” a minimalist electro cut featuring Phat Kat and patron saint J Dilla. Despite its imperfections, however, Two/Three is an awesomely dusted record. Ghostly International.