Loa Project (Volume II)
Reviewed by Joe Lockard
Tuesday, October 3 2000, 1:14 PM
The cerebral quality of DJ Cam's music is compelling. He resists categorization, weaving between recognizable hip-hop motifs and the sonic abstraction that is his trademark. It's an experimentalism that emerges from a sound that can be either club dancing music or an out-there unreality that explores a curious acoustic melange. The mix encourages either possibility. If DJ Cam encourages one understanding, the next track alters the mix.
Familiar stylistic markers appear and quickly disappear in a search for another interesting possibility. 'Juliet', the longest track on the album, is a symphonic ballad to the DJ's own love and phrases itself in structured movements. In these opening tracks DJ Cam relies a on strong rhythm sweetened by compelling piano and sax lines, but he shifts into more familiar hip-hop style by the third track, 'Mental Invasion'. 'Gangaman' keeps the movement headed in rapid forward with a reggae take turned electronica. Then the album once again swerves out of familiar territory. Cam has a predilection for sweeping and sober bass tones that comes to the fore in 'Ghetto Love', a contemplative excursion.
'Candyman' is a strongly psychological track, one that features a female voice being pursued by a rising male voice. A not-at-all-subtle sexual threat emerges from the background. Its absent subtlety and cinematic signaling eventually overwhelm the musical frame, which declines into a flute solo that does not bear the weight of the song's idea. The lounge act song of this album, 'You Do Something To Me', features the vocalist China in a controlled tune with a bit of French chorus sprinkled overtop. Only the occasional piece in this album is off-strength, and even off-strength for DJ Cam is far better than most.
DJ Cam's compositions and arrangements are the album's truest strength. On the opening and closing numbers, 'Millenium' and 'Angel Heart', his bent for thoughtful dramatism shines. They lie in that territory of reflective instrumental statements where DJ Cam is at his most comfortable and convincing.
The album cover, done by Tomato Gizolme, is especially appealing for its design economy and visual magnetism. Six Degrees Records is known for discriminating taste and this sort of production aesthetic enhances that reputation.
Loa Project is a Six Degrees Records release