Rob Swift Mixes Classical and Hip-Hop On New Album
Master turntablist Rob Swift has strived to expand the definition of Hip Hop since his first release in the mid-90's. In an age where creating an iTunes play list is the sole prerequisite for being called a DJ, Swift's boundary-pushing new release, The Architect, is a refreshing reminder that the 1's and 2's are an instrument in themselves.
Using his newfound love of classical music as a point of inspiration, Swift's latest work has as much in common with Mozart as it does with Grandmaster Flash. The innovative album has found a perfect home on fellow experimental musician Mike Patton's label, Ipecac Recordngs (Melvins, Isis, Hella).
Swift first arose to prominence as a member of the turntablist collective the X-Men a.k.a. X-ecutioners, and soon became known across the globe for his beat juggling skills. He has since gone on to work with an incredibly varied array of artists including Herbie Hancock, Cypress Hill, Dan the Automator, and Blue Man Group. Swift has also appeared on Sesame Street, ESPN, and The Late Show With David Letterman, all while maintaining his underground credibility and sense of adventure
A quick glance at The Architect's track listing reveals that Swift has created a conceptual piece of work. Though mostly instrumental, the album is not a "concept album" but rather a series of compositions deliberately sequenced to form a greater, unified whole. On "Principio," the album's lone MC, Breez Evahflowin, breaks it down when he spits "The way it's layed down, don't shuffle this LP / the truth is you'd miss something that's healthy / something like progress, the artform elevated / the next level of turntablism and innovators."
Though only two tracks contain vocals, The Architect is ripe with emotion and abstract narrative. Orchestral strings and organs mingle with fierce breakbeats and expert scratching. Swift's exploration of manipulating pitch and tempo are executed and organized with the mindset of a virtuosic composer. The album not only adds to Swift's illustrious legacy, but also adds news chapters in the history of the DJ and hip hop at large.
01/22: Brooklyn, NY @ Knitting Factory
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