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Red Handed

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Album Review

Sepalot is a Munich-based DJ and producer whose career had taken him on tours around the world and settled him into an established hometown club residency before he released Red Handed, his debut full-length, in 2008. This is the sound of IOUs being cashed: the featured rappers and singers are pretty much a who's who of the European hip-hop and electro scene, including Frank Nitty, OlivierDaySoul, Saigon, and Miss Platnum. Most of the vocalists bring standard-issue fare to the proceedings — lots of rapping about how hard and rich the rapper is, lots of sweet breathy women singing about how sweet and breathy they are. What keeps things seriously interesting is the musical range of Sepalot himself: "She Likes Me" is built on a great swinging rhythm, over which are laid multiple vocal layers and some nicely schmaltzy horns; "Go Get It" (featuring LADI6) and "Liquid Embrace" (featuring Esther) are both great straight-up R&B songs (the former flirting with a mambo beat), while "Smile" (featuring Shuanise) is a seriously weird and seriously brilliant blend of jerky, off-kilter rhythms and honeyed female vocals. Not everything succeeds completely — when Sepalot hits the ball he hits it out of the park, and when he misses ("Lights Down Low," "Manly") he misses by a mile. But good for him. His music wouldn't be as good as it is at its best if he weren't taking chances and swinging for the fences. No one else sounds like Sepalot, and if you've spent any amount of time with this kind of music you know that's saying something. Recommended.

Red Handed, Sepalot
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