[30 April 2007]
Talk about planning an album. Vancouver, Canada’s hip-hop trio, No Luck Club, must have constructed their album, Prosperity 2.0, after drafting a detailed blueprint. Or, maybe I should say they’ve “reconstructed” it, since the album is being re-released digitally and on CD.
First, you’ve got the band members who seem intent on cornering the instrumental hip-hop market with top-notch mosaics of sound: Matt Chan, working the laptop and sampler; Matt’s brother Trevor Chan and Paul Belen massaging the turntables.
Next, there’s the structure: 12 songs, packaged into four “suites” of three songs (The Cinematic Suite, the Uptempo Suite, the Introspective Suite, and the Nada Suite).
Finally, there’s the awesome execution: over 50 minutes of meticulously designed music marked by innovative layers of industrial and hip-hop beatmaking, supplemented by delicate turntable handiwork and quirky sampling.
Sometimes, you can hear the precisely imperfect alignment of the loops, like irregularly shaped mosaic tiles, awkward and unsettling yet, at the same time, raw and captivating. Each listen reveals subtleties previously missed, and the jazz-like improvisations and syncopation (see “Rear Entry Jazz”) will ensure unexpected twists and turns in each composition. It’s edgy enough to make you wonder if the band even knows where a particular song is headed, but tight enough to keep you glued. Other times, the plan comes together when you least expect it, like when you’re ready to press “skip”, but then the methodology in the madness suddenly becomes apparent (as in the aptly titled “Better Times Will Come”).
Musical variety rounds out the album, from the dramatic score of the opener, “Triad Zone”, and its cacophony of ringing phones and cliffhanger horns, to the peaceful chimes and animal calls that would do the Animal Planet television channel proud in “Birds on Parade”. A song like “Turntable on the Bayou”, with classic breakbeats and a more straightforward cadence, seems like “traditional” instrumental hip-hop fare (if there is such a thing), but check out the bongo rhythm lurking beneath it all. Listen on your headphones, notice how this band makes delivers treats for each ear—that’s good stuff.
Vocal samples in “Valuable Lives” give the song a martial arts flare, while “Our Story”—sampling Malcolm X speeches and other sound bytes—let you know “instrumentals” can make powerful statements. It’s similar in this regard to the Donald Rumsfeld snippets used to garnish the musical meal on “Running Away”, from the Large Professor assisted Thisish, Volume One.
Lastly, I gotta say I dig the way I received the “album”. The sucker came on a portable flash drive, about the size of a fingernail clipper. I felt like a Mission: Impossible agent when I plugged in the drive, listened to the track, and scoped out the album art. The difference is that the music doesn’t self-destruct. It keeps getting better.