In Madlib's latest transmission, 35 bite-sized soul samples, space-jazz loops, and leftfield speech edits ride atop an endless rhythmic flow. Part beats CD and part imaginary film sound track, Beat Konducta's overall effect is mesmerizing: Once you strap in and leave the traveling to Madlib, you never know where you are or where you're going next. That you don't need to know is the whole point. Like late Detroiter Jay Dilla with whom he released tracks as Jaylib Otis Jackson Jr. has been pointing music toward a kaleidoscopic hip-hop future since the 1990s. His newest trip is divided into halves. The first is introduced by a dedication ("For all ... who held it down from the beginning of the birth of this whole shit"), and the second unfolds like a dark carnival ride through a chaotic Bollywood production. The beats gradually crunch harder and the rhythms get funkier the deeper you go, particularly on "Friends" and "Money Hugger." The horns, grimy basslines and rich male and female voice cut-ups get hotter as Beat Konducta heads for the finale, where, suddenly, everything chills with its hushed flutes and strummed guitars, "Outerlimit" is another unpredictably beautiful dispatch from Madlib's fantastic voyage.
Walter Wasacz writes about music for Metro Times. Send comments to [email protected].