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Special Gunpowder

DJ Rupture

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Album Review

Although he made his name with a pair of dense, chaotic mix albums, DJ /rupture's full-length production debut, Special Gunpowder, has holes wide enough to drive a mixing desk through. That's capable of upsetting most /rupture fans, who have looked to the man for the most grinding, fast-paced records to come out in the new millennium. Jace Clayton has interests beyond digital hardcore, though, and most of his listeners have followed him as he's added influences ranging from the most polished of commercial rap to the hardest of ragga dancehall to the most exotic of Middle Eastern music. With all sorts of fans in his pocket, /rupture could have produced any one of a dozen different records, while still satisfying at least segments of his audience. Oddly, Special Gunpowder isn't any of those records; it's no rewrite of Minesweeper Suite with his own productions substituting for those from his crate, it's not a continuation of his fusion mix with Mutamassik from earlier in 2004 (Shotgun Wedding, Vol. 1: The Bidoun Sessions), and it's not even a strictly ragga record — though he spends more time here with ragga-influenced music than any other form. Special Gunpowder is different because it reflects all of Clayton's widely divergent interests. If he strains at times keeping them all within the same bulging tent, it's still an energized record with intriguing angles that pop out all over. Poet Elizabeth Alexander takes the first track in an unexpected direction, spurting streams of impressionistic vitriol ("Philadelphia is burning and watermelon is all that can cool it") with cut glass in her voice. Many of the tracks that follow lean toward the classic '80s era of dancehall, when skeletal effects matched tough beats and hi-res synthesizers yearned to break through the mix (and often did). For these tracks /rupture calls on an assured and talented array of vocal collaborators (second-wave-of-dancehall figures Sister Nancy and Junior Cat, Wicked Act) and production compatriots (Kid 606, Kit Clayton, Wayne Lonesome). Working farther afield, Eugene Robinson stops by to contribute some of the experimental fire that his band Oxbow possesses, and /rupture uses his album as a pedestal for several ethnic fusion collaborations. (One named "Qadasim" involves Montreal experimental-electronics producer Ghislain Poirier and oud/violin player Abdel Hak, another is the closer, which finds Sindhu Zagoren taking his banjo and voice to the ghostly traditional folk song "I Wish I Was a Mole in the Ground.") No, this isn't the blasted beatscape of Gold Teeth Thief and it's not as immediate a listen as any of DJ /rupture's previous releases. In fact, it may be impossible for anyone except Jace Clayton himself to appreciate every one of the widely divergent tracks here, but Special Gunpowder is a powerful release.

Special Gunpowder, DJ Rupture
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