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Listening to art.
Playing with audio.
Sounding out technology.
Composing in code.

Pete Rock Minus Vocals

After the rise of rock’n’roll, American jazz musicians took refuge in Europe. Maybe some update of that scenario explains why it took British record label BBE (as in “Barely Breaking Even”) to present PeteStrumentals, a full album of instrumental hip-hop by Pete Rock. A Mt. Vernon, N.Y., native, Rock is best known for his work as half of Pete Rock and CL Smooth, the enduring rap duo (on the order of DJ Premier’s partnership with Guru). Minus Smooth’s booming vocals, Rock can be more easily recognized for his cinematic flavor and moody rhythmic constructions. He can locate tiny jazz riffs that gain texture and flash with each passing loop. Spooky reverb compounds the threat, while the ever-present residue of scratchy vinyl keeps even the most otherworldly moments grounded. Rock utilizes electronic production tools to forge funky, swaggering, haunting music that can speak for itself. This material is likely fodder for samplers, which may explain why the package is sealed with a long magnetic strip: all the better to demagnetize nearby floppy discs.

By Marc Weidenbaum

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