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A GRAPE DOPE, "MISSING DRAGONS"

Galaxia
Showcasing his repertoire on the keyboard, sampler and mixing console under the alias of A Grape Dope, Chicago-based drummer John Herndon (Tortoise, Isotope 217) presents six new varying tracks that make up his latest EP. No stranger to the producer's chair, in recent years Herndon has provided re-mixes for other artists, while also releasing a few of his own dub-influenced compositions via the Hefty Records Immediate Action series. "Action: Showered Us" leads off the disc with its infectious live samba school-styled rhythms and muted basslines that kick the track into high gear, complete with handclaps. From the Hip Hop collective Anitcon, Dose One lends his distinct, multi-layered vocals to the bouncy "Red Hat Attack" over busy programmed machine beats, staccato low-end and near dissonant organ drones. The compositional sounds and juxtaposition of car crashes and toddlers-in-the-park themes make for an odd yet very interesting track. The disc's biggest surprise and definite highlight is the soulful ballad "I'll Spread It" which features Herndon's emotional vocoder stylings along with some tender bass and chord progressions that lilt and sway just beautifully. The underlying purr of additional electronic elements round out the composition nicely. Herndon's interesting compositional style and shifting rhythms draw from several different influences, yet still come across as distinct in their own setting. The strong, at times angular compositions on Missing Dragons should dispel the myth that drummers are only capable of counting and hitting stuff. 

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The Eye: Video of the Day

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Review of the Day

TOMMY GUERRERO, "SOUL FOOD TAQUERIA"
MoWax
San Francisco skateboarding legend and multi-instrumentalist (how's that for a resume?) Tommy Guerrero's latest full length disc is a cool blend of latin-jazz and funk grooves with a DJ culture type of feel while showcasing his solid guitar playing and knack for composing and arranging. Building on laid-back breakbeat samples, tracks such as "Organism," "It Gets Heavy," and "Thin Brown Layer," fatten up with electric bass, the odd keyboard and multi-tracked guitars to provide some great riffs and underplayed soloing which give off an impression of a controlled jam session that doesn't stray much from the intended groove. The gentle bossa nova feel of "Thank You MK" lays the groundwork for bright sounding bass and warm sounding, jazzy guitars to provide some simple yet beautiful chord progressions that in the overall setting come across as being very meaningful. Less is definitely more. The more traditional latin rhythms and instruments of "Lost Unfound" cement the tune's groove for syncopated bass lines and choppy guitar to move through minor sounding changes that subtly build tension throughout repetition. Although Guerrero has a couple of guest drummers and vocalists (most notably Lyrics Born), he plays all the instruments throughout the disc's seventeen tracks; very convincingly. 

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