Artist: Rob SwiftTitle: Under the InfluenceRating: 4 StarsReviewed by: aqua boogie
While a chunk of turntablist get so caught up in the technical aspect of their craft that they forsake the listeners ability to nod their head, Rob Swift comes with just the right blend of precision and listen-ability (new word) on Under the Influence.
Part of series “built around the inventive work of some of the world’s most adventurous DJ’s,” Rob Swift was an easy decision. Whether for self or with his X-Ecutioner crew of turntable titans, he is a household name in DJ circles and beyond.
Knowing when to catch wreck on the tables and when to take his hands off the wax and just let the songs play, <Under the Influence is a keen display of Rob’s astute selection in music. The rare funk grooves he unearths, from the Lynn Collin’s like vocal charges on The Explosions “Hip Drop” to the soulful horn blowing on Sam & The Soul Machine’s “Mercy D,” bring to mind the catalogs of musicians like James Brown, The JB’s and The Meters. The aforementioned are just a few of the groups whose creations have been pillaged by hip-hop producers over the years. Hearing new (actually previously unheard) joints is as refreshing as when you first heard that break you love in its original composition.
The album is pieced together to play as a journey correlated to Swift’s ascent on the turntables. The fundamentals that led to ‘turntablism’ can be heard on Davey DMX’s, “One for the Treble,” and Charlie Chase’s, “We Gonna Need a Little Scratch.”
Never sleeping on what gained him his notoriety, the O.G. battle DJ that Swift will always be shines through on his own “2, 3 Break” featuring DJ Klever and DJ Melo-D. A holdover from his last album, Sound Event, familiar breaks are chopped, transformed and flared to perfection.
From the R&B and Soul funk he learned to cut on (which open the album), to old school hip-hop DJ records (where he learned to scratch) to the nouveaux music he enjoys and creates (a couple of latin-jazz flavored Bobi Cespedes tunes close the album), it is all mapped out on the album’s sequencing. Again it’s not so much his ability to fit as many flares as possible into his compositions, but it’s keeping the amount proper enough for easy listening. Once again the tired cliché reigns true, more is less.