Ann Arbor's Dabrye adds emcees on Two/Three, locals like Invincible, Guilty Simpson, Big Tone and, on "Game Over," the late Jay Dee, as well as such underground stalwarts as the metal face of MF Doom on "Air," which whirs and splutters like a deconstructed horror film sound track. The vocal turns are significant, since 2001's One/Three, the album's official predecessor, was a groundbreaking exploration of just how evocative instrumental hip hop can be. But Two's collaborative spirit also connects Dabrye's drowsy futurism with the anxious, street-specific aesthetic of Detroit hip hop. "Encoded Flow" begins inside a windstorm of electronic noise before burbling to life amid Kadence's clipped phrasing and beats that bend like damaged ampersands. "Special" is all mismatched high hats and wandering tones a sound that's become Ghostly International's definable sonic brand. But Dabyre's production matches Guilty Simpson's stream-of-consciousness braggadocio, and both sides of the track, vocal and instrumental, weave in and out of each other in a wild meld of cocky and intuitive. Two/Three is so seamless that the allusions to Dabrye's previous work moody, jagged tracks like "Machines, Pt. 1" and "In Water" are right at home next to Vast Aire yelling in your ear on "That's What's Up."
At 9:30 p.m., Monday, July 3, at Comerica TasteFest, on the Pure Detroit Stage.
Johnny Loftus is the music editor of Metro Times. Send comments to [email protected].