In a musical world marred by cliche, thankfully there are still a select few artists still willing to push the proverbial envelope. One of these artists, producer Thes One, is set to reinvent the hip-hop instrumental album with his inaugural solo release, Lifestyle Marketing.
Thes, one-half of underground favorites People Under the Stairs, embarks on quite a coneptual journey with Lifestyle, one that draws upon the genius of two men to create one of the more memorable releases of the year thus far.
Of these two men, Herb Pilhofer has yet to be mentioned. You see, Uncle Thester’s inspiration for Lifestyle Marketing was derived from two previously unreleased volumes of Pilhofer’s work. Pilhofer, a German composer/pianist largely recognized for founding Sound 80 – a Minnesota recording studio best known for its contributions to Bob Dylan’s Blood on the Tracks – released Music That Works in the 1970s, an assortment of commercials he produced for a host of local and international companies.
It is from these jingles that the backdrop for Lifestyle is formed. Albeit strange, the resulting creation is nothing short of amazing. The PUTS signature sound is still resonant — laid-back, jazz-infused rhythms reminiscent of A Tribe Called Quest – but, introduced with Thes’ reinterpretations of these commercials, becomes something altogether distinct.
The album’s opener, “Gate City Savings and Loan,” teeters on the line between celestial and cryptic – forceful synth and percussion versus alluring, bewitching keys. Sparce production on “GBX Malt Liquor” rightfully allows the distorted audio sample to drive the track, while “Target” – the album’s lead single – Is a sharp, funk-driven offering. “Grain Belt Beer” is undeniably catchy, with the product’s tagline, “Grain Belt Beer treats your thirst,” flanked by a raffish guitar riff. A pair of island/nightlife grooves emerge from Pilhofer’s Pan-Am workings, the later, “Pan-Am 2,” garnering high marks for resembling something Sergio Mendes may have contrived.
Included with Lifestyle Marketing is a bonus disc featuing selections of Pilhofer’s original compositions. These alone are well worth a listen, not only as well-constructed pieces of music but as insight into the production process of Thes One the beatsmith. Lifestyle Marketing is a conceptual mash-up of immense proportions.
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