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Mike Ladd - Nostalgialator CD [!K7]
Mike Ladd - Nostalgialator LP [!k7]
Tracklist:
1. Dire Straits Play Nuremburg
2. Trouble Shot
3. Housewives At PLay
4. Black Orientalist
5. Wild Out Day
6. How Electricity Really Works
7. Off To Mars
8. Learn To Fall
9. Afrostatic
10. Nostalgialator
11. Sail Away Ladies
In the past I had not been totally enamoured with some of Mike Ladd's previous incarnations and manifestations. I haven't tracked his career and the last thing I remember was the slightly disappointing Majesticons project. However he has worked with some of the best including Company Flow and others on his more abstract level like the Anti Pop Consortium. Here he has returned on a solo tip with another LP full of his own personal form of expression and has put it together in the famous Bob James studio with the help of top engineer Scotty Hard. Now he has signed with the !K7 label which in the past has released stuff from the likes of Smith & Mighty and Rae & Christian as well as the DJ Kicks series.

The LP opens with a typically powerful opening which with the use of crowd sound effects and mic feed back from a gig gives a particularly lively feel. Trouble Shot is a mass of distorted sounds and therefore has an overall fuzzy sound as Mike Ladd delivers the majority of his lyrics though a distortion box, until about halfway the track breaks down and we get a peaceful spoken word interlude. Before the flipped bassline reminiscent of Puffy's Bad Boys For Life and the horns kick back for a rowdy finish. Housewives At Play, already released as the first official single, continues in Mike Ladd's electronically realised sound wilderness, but he smoothes this out for a late '80's Prince type groove which he actually sings over with the usual dose of humour and biting social observations. Mike Ladd is full of experimentation and is definitely not hampered by any constraints of normality.

Black Orientalist is the first track that really had me thinking yeah this is real Hip Hop and Mike isn't just playing around. The production is still dirty, but the guitar samples, horns in the chorus and funky drums make for a classic backing which Mike Ladd is able to spit over and when he does let go, although he isn't a right up in your face type MC he can still lace up a syllable or two. Of course he can't let the track go on like this as the track becomes increasingly rocky towards its close.

For Wild Out Day it is back to the mentalist approach to music as the pace is stepped up and so are all the distortion levels. Ladd is frenetic and on the edge of creating some sort of Metal Rock. When I was younger I would definitely have been lapping this and banging my head along, but these days I need something a bit more serene. When the real grunge guitar power power riffs its way into the track I knew it wasn't really for me. Wild Out Day has also been released as a 7" single last year and shows Mike Ladd's Punk influences. Is this really Future Funk, well perhaps not, it is what Hip Hop has always done and that is to fuse different and disparate genres and sounds together. How Electricity Really Works on the other had takes us back to nearer Mike Ladd's spoken word origins and experiences at New York's Nuyorican Poets Cafe.

The gentle minimalist vibe is perpetuated on the largely instrumental Off To Mars which was written in response to George Bush's statement that the US was set to explore Mars. Mike Ladd thought this was a good idea and through his lyrics shows that he would be glad if Bush went to Mars now and left us to clear up his mess. Learn To Fall is also more minimal, but brings in some more bleeps and also a touch of groove to the beat. Ladd painfully bares his soul in a breathless voice.

Afros Static boosts the energy for a moment before the instrumental title track - Nostalgialator which in places sounds a bit like an orchestra warming up before their actual performance. The final track Sail Away Ladies again gives us a different feel and increases the wind down of the aggravation levels for a very Blues influenced track. Mike Ladd is confident and with the breadth of styles portrayed there isn't really any need for guest appearances on this record and so there are none.

!K7Mike Ladd is critical of society and I think is incapable of going over the same ground twice. This LP is no different as he creates yet another persona and takes his music into a different area. The main theme I guess behind this LP is globalisation and whilst not all my musical pleasure spots were activated, it is never the less important that we have artists who are prepared to tackle topics in a subversive manner. The CD cover features a huge model robot / tank thing which is towering above the people inspecting it. I guess this is a pictorial representation of many of the sentiments included in the LP. Mike Ladd has said that this LP follows on from the Armageddon works and is meant to represent the After Future. The Nostalgialator is a machine which can take you away from your stresses and back to what you perceive as a better time. But, there is a bite, one needs to be careful as the machine could also take you back and show you some past realities.

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