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 » Full Dark, No Stars - Stephen King's new novella questions mankind's ability to trust others.
[02.21.2011 by Bridget Doyle]

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 » The Top 30 Albums of 2010 - Fashionably, fabulously late, our favorite music (and believe me, there was a LOT) of 2010, the year that some have called the best year for music ever. And only some of those fools work here. Plenty of usual suspects, lots of ties and a few surprises that I won't spoil, including our unexpected #1.
[12.24.2010 by The LAS Staff]

MUSIC

 » Live: Surfer Blood/The Drums at Lincoln Hall, Chicago, IL - Remember when Weezer used to put together records that you could sing along to and rock out to? That's what Surfer Blood's show was like!
[11.04.2010 by Cory Tendering]

Music Reviews

Screaming Females - Castle Talk
»Screaming Females
Castle Talk
Don Giovanni
Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross - The Social Network [Original Soundtrack]
»Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross
The Social Network [Original Soundtrack]
The Null Corporation
Deerhunter - Halcyon Digest
»Deerhunter
Halcyon Digest
4AD
No Age - Everything in Between
»No Age
Everything in Between
Sub Pop
Robyn - Body Talk Pt. 1/ Body Talk Pt. 2
»Robyn
Body Talk Pt. 1/ Body Talk Pt. 2
Konichiwa
The Walkmen - Lisbon
»The Walkmen
Lisbon
Fat Possum
Dr. Octagon
The Return of Dr. Octagon
OCD International

Rating: 9.5/10 ?


August 9, 2006
Visiting the doctor is an unpleasant task. In the waiting room we read out of date magazines and guess what is wrong with the "other guy" in the neighboring seat. Upon the doctor's arrival, we are treated to a series of uncomfortable circumstances we will never discuss with others. While sometimes awkward and embarrassing, we know these self conscience situations are insignificant compared to overall wellness.

For ten years, I have waited anxiously for The Return Of Dr. Octagon. Legendary MC Kool Kieth has transformed himself into the Jupiter-born alien from the year 3000 one last time and now, as a hip-hop fan stuck in 1996, I have something to rave about. I am so keyed up about this release, I am going to gloss over the fact that no human can say for sure whether this album is authentic- not even Keith himself can confirm it. The story of this release is so complex and drawn out, it is best not to address it (for now), instead forgetting all the rumors and contract legalities between Keith and his production company. Besides, such things are all marginal compared to the health of hip-hop fandom.

In the decade that has passed since Dr. Octagonecologist (1996) became an underground success, few have matched its' style. Futuristic beats, dark urban landscapes, clever rhymes and hilarious skits helped it become a cult classic teetering on the brink of commercial success. Besides making household names of producer Dan "The Automator" Nakamura and DJ Q-bert, it elevated hip-hop from beat box non-fiction to inspired science fiction. Today, a decade on, Dr. Octagonecologist is still one of the top five hip-hop albums of all time.

Of course, we can never expect a second anything (Batman, Jaws, Breakin') to be as good, as fresh, or as inspiring as the first. We can only hope to not be disappointed. Despite its overwhelming difference in style and substance, I can honestly say that The Return Of Dr. Octagon overwhelmingly met - nay, exceeded - my expectations.

This time around Kool Keith uncharacteristically teamed up with a trio of Berlin-based electronic music DJ's known across Europe as One Watt Sun (Ben Green, Simon Walbrook, and John Lindland) to lay down the production and beats. OWS have a sound that is hard to describe but could be likened to Dan the Automator hallucinating with Daft Punk in Pink Floyd's basement while Keith lay passed out on the couch, talking in his sleep. The Return Of Dr. Octagon touches on a new trend in hip-hop as all of Keith's lyrics are electronically broken down through out the tracks, his voice sampled and re-sampled almost as if he was never there (and, according to the speculation around the album I alluded to earlier, -he probably wasn't). "Al Green" features Keith's lyrical samples put to a funky baseline dance beat.

The beauty of The Return Of Dr. Octagon is that it all works together. The electronic robotic beats of the second track "Trees" sets the energy level high and the dark western rock balladry serving as the backdrop of "Guerrilla Driving a Pickup Truck" can, in turn, slow the pace down dramatically. Even the sharp rhythmic change in the middle of "Aliens" keeps the listener on their toes, primed and intensely interested. Every musical track offers its own production genius, as exemplified in the funky guitar chords, stringed instruments and DJ scratch breaks of "Ants." With so many unique beat landscapes, there is no negative aspect to the music of the album.

Hardcore Keith fans will have trouble excepting this album because of the electronic dance influence. For those who do, they must remember that Dr. Octagon was in this same awkward position ten years ago with his fans, not to mention the critical challenges to Keith's hip-hop style. Although Kool Keith was never comfortable with transition, his twenty aliases and multiple personalities always scripted change.

For those who question the validity of this album with Keith, they can feel comfortable knowing that his humor, sick mind, and hatred of R&B cats have not been outsourced. "Got Any Kids?," "The Operators Are Masturbating" and "The Turtle Skit" are classic Keith. The doctor certainly hasn't lost any medical prowess as he exclaims to a patient there is a "turtle in your uterus".

Regardless of how uncomfortable the Doctor's visit was, we can now say it was worth it. How often can one listen to an album and feel like they just drank the 'kool aid'? How often can one wait ten years and have their expectations exceeded. Ultimately, I can go to bed at night knowing that Dr. Octagon (regardless of who it is) has once again put hip-hop under the knife and performed surgery on it.

Reviewed by Ted Nixon
A contributing writer based in Oakland, California, Ted Nixon covers hip-hop releases for LAS.

See other reviews by Ted Nixon

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