Listen Up: Wednesday, April 26, 2006
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A D V E R T I S E M E N T
A D V E R T I S E M E N T
Top Secret

Shhh ... (Self-released)

By Tom Urquhart

What if Madlib and DJ Shadow swore off their digital cut-and-paste skills and made albums exclusively from live sessions recorded on analog equipment?

Top Secret’s Shhh ... might be the result.

About a year ago, former Pablo and the Hemphill 7 bassist Marcus Lawyer began a social experiment in which he invited area musicians of all styles into his studio to lay down riffs blind. Over the next few months, he began cobbling together the bits and pieces, finally arriving at the 10 tracks here.

Hardcore local music fans and other musos might get a kick out of listening to the songs and trying to pick out who’s who: Hey, that sounds like Joey Carter on the Hammond B-3! What’s he doing accompanying a cello? Wait. Maybe it’s a theremin?! I think I hear Jerome 57 in there somewhere. (Adding to the game’s difficulty, a lot of the contributors didn’t play their primary instruments of choice.)

Needless to say, you don’t have to be a local music know-it-all to be able to appreciate the psychedelic funk-lounge here.

The common denominator is the groovy rhythm section, a dub-ish canvas across which multifarious colors and textures swirl, dip, and loop. Even the voices that come into view function as human instruments rather than as vessels for lyrics. Still, there’s no denying the wordless content of the sexy groans, plaintive blues shouts, and excited wails.

The album is available in both vinyl and polycarbonate form, and every sleeve contains the names of the local musicians who performed and the songs they “wrote,” rendering Top Secret ... finally and happily declassified.

For more info, visit www.myspace.com/topsecret.


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