Review : Exile - AM/FM
PitchforkMost of the time, listening to commercial radio is an exercise in patience-testing entropy, a way to fill space with noise in the hopes that something interesting will sneak up on you. The blip of abbreviated sound clips bridged by the static of switching stations has become sonic shorthand in postmodern pop music for a good reason. Exile's 2009 album, Radio, was a jumbled, quasi-Steinski sample collage that tried to make some kind of sense of all that airwave debris. In the process, the West Coast indie hip-hop beatmaker played up a sort of assaultive, yammering overload you only get from that particular medium. He sabotaged some interesting post-Prefuse 73 beats in the bargain, too, obscuring his fine-tuned sense of nuanced production techniques with a lot of uncharacteristically obvious pseudo-comedic nonsense. But that's what remix albums are for, right?
Eh. AM/FM does give some of Exile's peers a shot at reinterpreting Radio's plunderphonic drive-time routine, and given the structure of the original album, it actually seems like a logical conclusion. But while the introduction of other producers gives the raw material the sort of thematic eclecticism that Radio's one-man aesthetic only met halfway, it also means that it comes across like one of those freeform shows where the DJ just throws incoherent sets together at the last minute.
Most of AM/FM falls in that odd space between familiar California underground rap (with appearances by the likes of Blu, Fashawn, and a couple of dudes from Living Legends) and the West Coast's hazy, psychedelic mutations of neo-soul. For instance, there are two remixes of "It's Coming Down", a burbling, soulful Detroit-style beat in its original form. One of the remixes, by Shafiq Husayn, is a slow-boiling mess of noodly synthesizers and false-start basslines that eventually oozes its way into some kind of vaguely funky lava-gurgle throb. The other one takes the source beat and adds Alchemist and Evidence going all classic-backpacker over it. Well, at least it's versatile....full text
PotholesinmyblogIn 2009, Southern California DJ and producer Exile released one of the most compelling projects of that year with Radio – an instrumental album centered on radio, or at least Exile’s version of what radio station surfing would sound like. The end result was a creative, if sometimes exhaustive, journey in sound and thought. Many listeners hoping for an exact replication of his work with MC and producer Blu – the album Below The Heavens – would undoubtedly be disappointed in his departure in sound. This is a shame because Radio is indeed worth repeated listens. Exile latest release AM/FM is a reworking of Radio with remixes and vocal guest appearances from some of Exile’s former collaborators and associates. With Radio having achieved such a heavy impression, was this remix album necessary? That question is explored below.
Sa-Ra Creative Partners member Shafiq Husayn’s remix of “It’s Coming Down” is a spacey, noisy affair that doesn’t necessarily improve upon the original song. While the track attempts to be some ambitious audio event, it lacks any manner of direction – even when Husayn finally decides to let the drums give the song a much needed jumpstart. Producer Samiyam’s remix of “Population Control” is an improvement from the opener; the hesitating drums, distorted vocals, and organ stabs will inspire head nods. Producer Milo1’s take on “In Love” actually expands on the original and is an early standout track. The jazzy, up-tempo drums and soulful keys work in tandem and leave a definite impression. The reworking of “Your Summer Song” featuring vocalist J. Mitchell is another excellent improvement on the original material. J.Mitchell’s syrupy vocals and the busy, big-sounding track are perfect together. A vocal reworking of “We’re All In Power” features the talents of Evidence, Krondon and Blame One. On paper, this sounds like a dream team but the rhymes from Evidence are underwhelming and the usually potent Krondon is nearly smothered by the track. Blame One barely resonates, even with the best performance of the three. This song is skip worthy. The Free The Robots remix of “Population Control” is another mishap as the noisy, robotic and entirely mechanical sounding track is nothing more than audio annoyance. Vocalist Muhsinah’s reworking of “Stay Tuned” (titled “Stay Here” on this LP) is more of the usually amazing work from the DC-raised songstress. Muhsinah shows incredible range and she adds her original stamp to the track. The chorus is simply beautiful....full text
HiphopdxOne vital aspect of a any youth-driven culture is in its ability to combine various elements of the past with the present in order to create something that is new and exciting. Hip Hop is no stranger to the power of change since it first came on the scene in the ‘70s as a way for kids living in the South Bronx to express themselves creatively in the face of poverty, violence and hopelessness. Fast forward to 2010: it has now succeeded in becoming an integral part of global society and serves as a platform for young people to explore their creativity to the fullest and allow them to put their very own twist on the celebrated art form.
Exile is a sample-friendly producer/deejay from Southern California who takes full advantage of Rap’s youthful brilliance and vibrant plasticity by having his close friends remix the songs off his last full-length release, Radio, considered by some to be a recent staple in the instrumental Hip Hop sub-genre. The result is the aptly titled AM/FM, a collection of abstract beats and left-field rhymes that are heavily inspired by the producer’s stream-of-consciousness approach to weaving sonic tales with just a sampler and drum machine. Whereas the Radio album brings listeners deep into the creative mind of Manfredi and his meticulous obsession with combining found sounds, the latter is more akin to picking up a funky transmission from a crazy alien life form bent on replicating the schizophrenic sights and sounds one might encounter in a large urban metropolis like Los Angeles or New York City.
Fans eager to hear their Manfredi’s originals mixed with dope vocals will be happy with the album’s bevy of guest vocalists and remixers who joyfully bring listeners on a journey back to the earthly plane. For example, fellow producers Alchemist and Evidence (a/k/a Step Brothers) wax poetically about the complexities of life on the Shafiq Husayn remix of “It’s Coming Down,” giving the spacey track a much-needed dose of street knowledge. Blu, the LA-based rhymesayer who has collaborated with Exile on various occasions (most notably as a duo, Blu & Exile) also sprinkles rhyme magic on “Love Line,” bringing life to the jam’s dreamlike qualities with quiet metaphors and seductive imagery. Another dope cut to benefit from vocal assistance is “Your Summer Song” (featuring R&B upstart, J. Mitchell). The wistful nature of the LA-based producer’s ditty is given a sexier and bolder make-over thanks to Ms. Mitchell’s vocal crooning. Last but not least, “Mega Mix” makes mega-sense with the appearance of unique verses by Fashawn, Blame One, Big Tone and ADAD, bringing laser-precise intensity to the song’s scatterbrained instrumentals....full text
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