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


 » 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]


 » 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
Halcyon Digest
No Age - Everything in Between
»No Age
Everything in Between
Sub Pop
Robyn - Body Talk Pt. 1/ Body Talk Pt. 2
Body Talk Pt. 1/ Body Talk Pt. 2
The Walkmen - Lisbon
»The Walkmen
Fat Possum
Shifting Gears
Hollywood Records

Rating: 7/10 ?

May 19, 2005
The debate hits you in the eardrum every single time you walk through a guitar shop: technicality vs. creativity. On your right side, a long-haired metalhead shreds intricate Van Halen licks, finger taps and all. Buried in an opposite corner but equally as loud, a balding self-appointed "guitar lover" sits on a stool and strums detailed jazz chords to invisible Wes Montgomery charts. Neither style of playing can be called better although without some amount of creativity music would never exist in the first place.

Turntables are the same way. You got the critics who praise ingenuity from the likes of Grandmaster Flash and Jam Master Jay. Then there are those that put a premium on the new generational scratching chops of The X-Ecutioners and Invisibl Skratch Piklz.

DJ Z-Trip has been around the scene for several years, long enough to cultivate his own style from the different values of turntablism. Instead of standing in the middle of the guitar shop and utilizing the beauties of each performance style, Z-Trip sets up shop right next Eddie Van Halen 2 and has a riff party with his newest release, Shifting Gears.

More than anything, it sounds as if the DJ has a hard time deciding what he wants to bring to point next - collaborations in which he plays producer, nostalgic tracks that show his old school hip-hop, b-boy appreciation or fresh new cuts in which he shreds some serious vinyl. Somewhere in this mishmash, Z-Trip gets a little lost and leaves his full potential behind.

To go along with the many production choices, the album hosts a number of stylistically diverse MCs. "Listen to the DJ" leads in with clichéd raps from Soup of Jurassic 5 and a booming Fatboy Slim-sterile bass & beat behind it. Lyrics Born rhymes through a conga-and-slap-track induced, 80s house party throwback, "The Get Down," with one of the sweeter performances of the album. Murs, Busdriver, Linkin Park's Chester Bennington, Whipper Whip, Luke Sick, Mystic, Supernatural and Aceyalone all make appearances throughout.

During many songs, it feels as if both Z-Trip and the featured MCs are trying too hard to match each other. The DJ alters beats and melodies as often as SNL cast members change costumes, and holistically it gives off a fractured feeling. This divergence from Z-Trip's b-boy groove style of choice dually encourages theme diversity and distraction. Tracks 12-14 are a sample of the confusing direction of things: a trembling piano, soft bumping hip-hop groove "Everything Changes" with Aceyalone and Mystic; "Walking Dead," a dark Linkin Park adaptive, featuring the band's singer Bennington; then Chuck D and his angst-political metal/rap Rick Rubin homage "Shock and Awe."

When Z-Trip dives in head first and focuses on one goal, he is able to find his stride and give a peek into his potential. One such glimpse is "About Face," an unassuming feature of sampling, scratching, and military marching percussion. Z-Trip stacks the percussive elements of his cutting techniques on top of a drum line cadence performance and it comes out cool and impressive, appropriate for what this guy really is - a DJ.

Although there aren't any hard-set limitations as to how far you can go with an album, there are points when the general theme becomes blurry. For Shifting Gears, Z-Trip tries to show his diverse tastes in production and performance abilities and eventually loses some effectiveness along the way.

Reviewed by Josh Zanger
Joshua Ian Zanger, a native of rural Chicago, rocks many a world with his writing, style, and generally sweet aroma.

See other reviews by Josh Zanger



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