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Heavy Rotation: Cliff Martinez’s Latest Score, J. Rawls’s Beat Fusion, DJ Baku’s Overture

What I’ve been most focused on, listening-wise, this past week:

(1) A Late Winter: First Snow, the Guy Pearce film, came out about a year ago, but Cliff Martinez‘s score only saw release last week, at least according to iTunes, which lists the release date as June 10, 2008. The score’s 20 tracks of intimate yet abstract soundscapes, with occasional moments of traditional instrumentation, are of the sort that have earned previous Martinez scores, notably that to Steven Soderbergh’s Solaris, a dedicated following. According to iTunes, the record label for the score is YFG Records, LLC. That would be the Yari Film Group, which released First Snow. The film was directed by Mark Fergus, who wrote the screenplay to Children of Men.

(2) Live Beats: A new single by J. Rawls takes one of the great instrumental hip-hop tracks, the backing music to the Beatnuts‘s “Off tha Books” (off the 1997 album Street Crazy), and refashions it with sinewy live instrumentation. It’s a jazz fusion hybrid of hip-hop that Rawls has practiced previously, but fortunately none of the slickness that marked his 2006 album The Liquid Crystal Project is heard here. The flipside of the new single pays similar tribute to Da Beatminerz. The tracks are available on a 7″ single (titled “A Tribute to the Beatnuts/ A Tribute to Da Beatminerz”) from Polar Entertainment.

(3) Calm Before the Drums: The recent album Dharma Dance (Popgroup) by Japanese beat figure DJ Baku is a little heavy on the rock’n’roll, a little tight to the 4/4, but the opening track, simply titled “Intro,” elegantly layers street noise, orchestral overtones, and distant piano to rich effect, slowly building over the course of its brief but detailed minute-and-a-half length.

By Marc Weidenbaum

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