Review: dj maru

Audio Samples
Deadly Rays
Ice Age
The Pattern that Lies Beneath Us

Track Listing
1. Tetragammoth
2. The Pattern That Lies Beneath Us
3. Waking Life Moment
4. Human Development
5. Deadly Rays
6. Ice Age
7. Royal City Chainsaw Massacre
8. Unpardonable Sins
9. Dental Plan
10. Mulberry Skies
11. Snap
12. Sattelites
13. Mutagen
14. Rain Buckets
15. Duplicate Version
16. Regime


Baracuda72: Tetragammoth
(2002, Plague Language) CD: $12.00 @ The HHI Store
For those unfamiliar with Baracuda72 or the Plague Language label, the cover art to Tetragammoth serves as a perfect analogy to the album�s function. With the fling of a hand, a mysterious half white, half pink pill with the number 72 on it is caught in mid flight as it prepares to enter the gaping mouth, which is convincingly placed on top of a pale and hairless head. It will probably take one listen before you�ll understand what this semi-disturbing picture means, or at least half a listen, but the connection is quite simple: Tetragammoth is like a drug, injected directly into the brain and offering a forty-five minute whirlwind of fast paced, and at times nauseating concoction of rhymes and beats. Naturally one has to wonder how Tetragammoth would have sounded if it had coincided with Neophyte Phenotype. Both are similar in scope and personality, and in many ways, Tetragammoth is superior to Neophyte if only it weren't a couple years late.��

One of the main problems is Baracuda�s mere association with Noah. Having already released two extremely well received albums, and being labeled as such a unique contributor to hip hop, Baracuda finds himself cast under the ominous shadow of his label mate. Comparisons will obviously be made, but Noah, with the head start, gives Baracuda the unfortunate task of trying to at least meet the quality of excellence set before him. Even by album�s end it�s hard to determine a hierarchy between the two.

But putting comparisons beside, which is probably the smartest thing to do, Tetragammoth opens up with the album�s strongest tracks. The thumping drum break on "The Pattern that Lies Beneath Us" is perfectly accentuated by the sharp sitar and vibrating bass, as Baracuda essentially reps his label and his niche for creativity. Baracuda gives one of his best performances on the Ssleman produced "Waking Life Moment," a riveting narrative starting off at the end of a dream "falling with no parachute hoping for a fast hit." As he awakes, he soon feels a surge of energy which eventually snowballs into a whirl of contemplative thought and skillful diction. In the same vein, but on the more abstract tip is "Ice Age" which has Baracuda beginning the track with a narrative of an attempted hunt and kill of a jackal, which again escalates into obscurity. Leading up to this point Baracuda's style is evidently more approachable than Noah's, and perhaps more importantly, is not nearly over the top as Noah's jagged train of thought and rolling delivery. Baracuda is still no Dr. Seuss, but his approach won't have you reaching for a quantum physics book every line.

Similar to Neophyte, Orphan comes through with the majority of the album�s beats, rocking the same formula and sonic foundations that made his predecessor so refreshing. The results here are mixed, however, only because he seems to do nothing different. His beats are a bit more polished and contain a bit more of a flare, but it doesn�t really go a long way when you come right down to it. Some of his experiments work, such as the chaotic "Deadly Rays" and the minimalist, but extremely dope "Mulberry Skies," but tracks like "Dental Plan" only seem to push Baracuda into further oblivion. Orphan is still one of hip hop's most interesting producers, and at times amazing, yet it's sad how such a tight beat like "Unpardonable Sins" can squeeze through the album untouched by a vocal presence.

As the album starts its second half, it begins to lose any momentum it had going for it. Containing a majority of the guest producers, the direction and overall cohesiveness begins to fall apart, dwindling down to the drug�s unwanted hangover. "Snap," produced by Bionix, is the album�s downward spiral, a hardcore drum and bass track far exceeding the typical bpm of your standard hip hop. "Sattelites" is a sloppy track featuring Livestock, and "Duplicate Version" is the homestretch, the drunken freestyle that seems to have no place on the album at all. There is certainly nothing horrible about any of these tracks, and some of the earlier ones are downright excellent, but when all things are said and done you'll likely be left with an odd taste in your mouth; that perturbing taint of stale coffee. It�s an uncomfortable feeling, but just like the second cup is hard to resist, a second pop of the pill may prove to be just as addictive.�