|Since the release of Thavius Beck’s preceding 2006 Thru album on Mush, the Los Angeles-based hip-hop producer and multi-instrumentalist has certainly been a busy man, working alongside Trent Reznor in the studio co-producing Saul Williams' The Inevitable Rise and Liberation of Niggy Tardust album, as well as spending much of 2008 handling production for K-The-I's Yesterday, Today & Tomorrow album. With such a packed creative schedule, it's perhaps no wonder that it's taken almost four years for this third solo effort Dialogue, his first for Big Dada, to finally arrive. While Beck's two preceding albums have seen him enlisting the skills of a range of guest vocalists including The Mars Volta's Cedric Bixler-Zavala, Saul Williams and Subtitle, one of the first changes that’s immediately apparent on the aptly-titled Dialogue is Beck's decision to rely completely on his own vocals – indeed, this latest album arguably sees him behind the mike more than he's been since his early Project Blowed days.
There's also a predominant focus on conscious lyrics and socio-political themes amongst the fifteen tracks collected here – something hinted at further by track titles like "Money," "Violence" and the Giovanni Marks-assisted "Sheepish" – the latter in particular being a barbed attack on advertisers co-opting concepts of youth culture and rebellion for marketing purposes. Throughout, the targets Beck sets his sights on include mindless commercialism, the idea of urban gangsterism simply providing another distorted caricature of black culture that's the direct descendent of past stereotypes and apathy (see "IDC"), and while several other writers have expressed mixed feelings concerning Beck's lyrical skills and delivery, for the most part I found most of the tracks here to be solid and literate stuff that certainly doesn't diminish his preceding reputation. While there's certainly a lot to take in lyrically over this album's comparatively brief 39 minutes, Beck's dense, rapid-fire verbal style suits the jagged, frenetic and synth-dominated instrumental backdrops offered up on highlight moments such as "Cracking The Shell," "Go!" and "Transmission," the resulting sonic fusion evoking a sense of The Bomb Squad's dense barrage being married to a sinuous post-Anti-Pop Consortium glitchy synth-hop aesthetic. All things considered, fans of the likes of El-P and Saul Williams' Niggy Tardust alter-ego should find much to admire on Dialogue. - Cyclic Defrost