Album Review: Cut Chemist Educates, Pushes Live DJ Boundaries with “Sound Of The Police”

COVER ART - CUT CHEMIST - SOUND OF THE POLICE Listening to Lucas McFadden’s (aka Cut Chemist) latest mixtape release Sound Of The Police, makes me wish he had taught my high school music and college world history classes. Because, honestly, the dude knows exactly how to teach the kids and students of hip hop where our historical and musical roots came from. And it would be just plain awesome to learn the history of the world via two turntables and sonic syllabus that wouldn’t put me to sleep.

Editorial note: parts of this article first published as Music Review: Cut Chemist – Sound of the Police on Blogcritics.

We’ve explored the live creativity of Cut Chemist before, so we know that what I’m about to explain shouldn’t be a complete surprise.

That said, McFadden has yet again found a way to challenge us to re-think what it means to be a DJ and creative a community of groove and I know he’s kind of guy that would definitely earn the right for a pure call-and-response from the fans.

And here’s why.

Sound of The Police might conjure memories of the classic Boogie Down production track of the same name, but McFadden says he choose the title to go further back, and more importantly, reference Ethiopia’s military bands which were his primary influence to make this mix.

The recording back story of Sound Of The Police is that it was originally intended to be only performed once during Mochilla’s “Timeless” concert series opening up for Ethiopia’s own Mulatu Astatke in 2009.

That said, listening to the live mix you’d expect to hear a crowd cheering or feel that live vibe and energy but you don’t. That’s because it was recorded as practice session as McFadden readied himself for Mochilla gig.

And after the success of that performance he says he wanted the show to be heard and seen by as many people as possible, and that “the live performance attempts to be a reenactment of the CD, but with cameras on the turntable and loop pedal so the audience understands exactly how the records are being manipulated.” (see video below)

As one of the founding members of seminal Los Angeles groups Jurassic 5 and Ozomatli, McFadden explains that it was important to play the CD live in the way he did because “It’s like walking a sonic tight rope and the audience gets to see me fall if something goes wrong. The interesting parts are when I mess up and fix it. The audience goes crazy and appreciates what a difficult balancing act this actually is.”

Now, here is where McFadden challenged himself and pushed the envelope in live DJing with this project. To create Sound of the Police and during the live performance in 2009, he didn’t use the traditional CD/mixtape methods using two turntables.

Instead, he used only one turntable, a mixer, a loop pedal and all original vinyl pressings. He says he did this because performing the mix live, in this way, would challenge the contemporary DJ as well as himself.

What does the innovative mix sound like?

Well, it’s an expansive sonic safari to the roots of hip hop that puts the culture of the DJ and history of classic samples in proper context.

Using all his skills as a master beat juggler, producer and supreme turntablist, McFadden’s Sound of the Police is powered by his passion for Ethiopian, Colombian, Sudanese and Afro-Brazilian beats and rhythms.

It is truly an education in the sonic roots of hip hop that will move your body and enlighten your mind. And knowing that this recording was a test run for live performance makes it even more fun, creative and fresh.

It listens like a cinematic concept album with two succinct, albeit epic, chapters (“East” and “West”) that move, groove, swing, jam and flow beautifully through all parts of your body and soul. None matter what side of the hemisphere your listening to, McFadden unfolds both sides of the sonic story beautifully as he deftly tells the sonic tale and educates the masses.

Download Sound of the Police via Amazon

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