[7 April 2009]
Even though it comes almost two years after its film counterpart was released, we finally have a physical copy of Odd Nosdam’s T.I.M.E. Soundtrack from 2007’s skateboard video This Is My Element. Without having seen the film myself, I can attest to the fact that this anticon. producer can adapt musically to any situation or style. It’s no question that he remains most comfortable when crafting abstract soundscapes matched with distorted boom-bap. But he is capable of blending other genres, like folk or shoegaze, with his own unique style so he never sounds stale or stuck. And he continues doing just that in this quick but effective collection, which sticks to the Odd one’s roots and is sure to please his fans.
As soon as the album-opening “Zone Coaster” hits, it’s clear that T.I.M.E. is yet another strong entry in Nosdam’s expansive catalog. The dusty drums blend perfectly with melodic, deep keyboards and organs. Then the ambient shuttering noises and bass groove hit and it just clicks. This is the musical counterpart to not just a skateboarding video, but a gritty urban setting, too. You hear plenty of that in tracks like “Cop Crush”, a brief drone expedition that bangs hard even in its short time, and “One for Dallas”, a brash piece that blends folk and dub. And when it comes to mixing genres like on “One for Dallas”, Nosdam hits his stride on “Top Rank”. He again blends acoustic guitar strums and dub rhythms, but it’s all split for what feels like several tracks in one. Until the track’s finale, that is, when dub fills the left speaker and folk bleeds from the right. It might sound messy, but the producer pulls it off wonderfully. All of that aside, “Top Rank” is also appropriately titled, as it’s one of the best on here. That track’s accolade is only rivaled by the just as dusty and folk-driven “We Bad Apples”. It also features a static-ridden electric guitar that somehow suits the rapid-fire percussion backbone. But what makes the track truly stand out are its transitions, which bring to mind a visual of Nosdam pounding away on his MPC or whatever he uses to craft beats.
But as any fan of Odd or experimental hip-hop in general knows, things can go south very quickly if any semblance of structure dissipates for a noisy wankery. And, though it happens rarely, that problem still occurs on T.I.M.E.. Tracks like “Ethereal Slap” and the aforementioned “One for Dallas” are, for the most part, enjoyable, albeit noisy, listens. They tend to become too punishing as they either drag on for too long (in the case of “Ethereal Slap”) or simply bring the static-induced pain (on “One for Dallas”). Then there is “Trunk Bomb”, which sounds like a less maniacal and loosely built continuation of the stellar “We Bad Apples”. These tracks aren’t enough to hurt Nosdam’s effort here. But they are indicative of what happens when insanity gets a little too insane, if that makes any sense.
Across the 33 minutes of T.I.M.E., Nosdam captures a masterful mix of dusty hip-hop drums that never seem to relax and simplistic instrumental loops, which range from piano to reverbed guitar. Also thrown in, perhaps as a means of portraying the sounds of the city, are ambient noises. And it all works, though that should come as no surprise to fans of Nosdam’s previous albums. The Odd one is truly a champion of his craft, whatever the hell that may be, exactly.