It begins with a shrieking female vocal sample followed by a filthy, hypnotic guitar riff. The drums contribute a funk aesthetic, and the result is modern snake charmer music–for acid heads. And thus begins the adventure that is Oh No’s latest project, Dr. No’s Oxperiment. In the fashion of his brother Madlib’s Beat Konducta series, Oxperiment is a rapid fire instrumental album that explores the fusion of dusty hip hop production and spaced out psychedelic sampling. Turkey, Greece, Lebanon, and Italy are the sources of the sample selection, a region introduced to Oh No by Stones Throw’s overlord and resident wax kingpin, Egon. According to Egon, Oh No was initially overwhelmed by the exotic sounds, but within two weeks of passing him the foreign funk, Oh No was sitting on over 40 completed beats. Narrowed down to 28 tracks, Oxperiment has now been unleashed on the masses.
To be brutally honest, the higher ups could have told us that this was a Madlib record and we wouldn’t have thought twice about it. Oxperiment possesses the same blunted overtones found in the majority of production from the Stones Throw camp, and the only real difference between this album and a Beat Konducta album is the consistency of Oh No’s drum sequencing, where as Madlib often slides into broken beat structuring without warning. That being said, if your instrumental album is going to sound like the work of someone else, Oh No’s older brother, Madlib, is a damn fine choice for a point of comparison.
Check “Higher” for Oh No’s top notch chopping techniques, and one of the illest snare/high hat combos on the record. “Ox Broil” is a dizzying banger, beginning with the sound of water boiling, then diving into a psyched out whirlwind of noise. The abstract samples glide back and forth between headphones, and a bass-heavy set of beautiful mid-tempo drumming prevents the track from going too left-field. That seems to be the idea with a lot of Oh No’s and Madlib’s production these days: anything goes sample-wise, as long as a sturdy bounce aesthetic is maintained by the drums.
“Alarmsss” features the now-required buzzing bassline for a Stones Throw hip hop record, though the use of airy psyche sampling balances the dirty digital lows. The funky strings of “My Luck” sound like the theme of a Turkish tv show about a detective who isn’t afraid to slap a grown man across the face to get some answers.
Overall, Dr. No’s Oxperiment is a consistent instrumental record that furthers Oh No’s reputation as one of the top boundary-pushing producers in the game. Paired with Madlib’s latest Beat Konducta in India project, you’ve got a solid 3-hour soundtrack for your next Middle Eastern themed hip hop party. Curry and Kangols till the break of dawn. – Chris Seeger
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