As Slint were to Nirvana and Autechre to Orbital, so cLOUDDEAD are to mainstream hip hop. Kind of. It's tempting to place Doseone, why?, and odd nosdam in the rich wave of avant-rap headed by El-P, Mr. Len, Cannibal Ox, Mike Ladd and Antipop Consortium. The quibble being that the Cincinnati trio's proggy sampledelia is so abstract it often spins out of the genre pool altogether. Compiling six 10-inch singles recorded between 1998 and 2000 with different guest artists--namely Illogic, DJ Signify, Sole, Wolf Bros, Mr Dibbs and the Bay Area Animals--cLOUDDEAD's self-titled début (on the Big Dada label) was closer to Mt Bloody Valentine's ambient anti-rock than any b-boy egotism. The breakbeats actually sounded broken in places, slowed to a crawl by layer upon layer of candy floss-fuzzy textures, while reedy-voiced internal monologues and paranoid chanting drifted through the fog.

Chief lyricist Doseone - whose flights of fancy make Captain Beefheart sound like a linear bore - returned this year in collaboration with producer Boom Bip. Their 70-minute opus 'Circle' (Leaf) is an 'audio film' collage utilizing turntables, live instrumentation, found sounds and free form babble. The duo's sole gig to date saw them perform for more than three hours in an Ohio theatre, dressed as a birdcatcher and town crier. Lord knows what madness they and cLOUDDEAD have planned for tonight, but those who bemoan the lack of originality in modern music should make a beeline for Brick Lane.


Mush Records