Review: DJ Adlib – Haus & Garten (2012)

DJ Adlib’s new album, Haus & Garten, due for release in the new year, is an impressive mix of bass heavy vibes, sparse percussion and big name guest spots. This is not merely a beat tape, though. This sixth edition of Melting Music Pot’s Hi-Hat Club series stands up as an instrumental album worthy of serious attention. Repeated listens are essential.

The album is held together by an undercurrent of insistent, but well-measured bass melodies. These aren’t like the heavy-handed Odd Future drops such as on ‘Radical’. Adlib has filtered out the rougher sounds of UK dubstep and arrived at something more akin to Shabbaz Palaces and early-James Blake.

‘1, 2 Yo!’ adds a simple refrain, spectral synths, and understated drums to an insistent bass line. The result is a track that sits somewhere between post-dubstep introversion, ethereal electronica and percussive downtempo house. All of this is held together by a hip hop aesthetic and Adlib’s considerable talents.

The album’s careful blend of boom bap drums, hand claps and intricately chopped vocals are carefully blended to produce an album above initial expectations. Check the deftly chopped Mos Def ‘Definition’ sample echoed through standout strack ‘Lorwdamercy’.

The guest spots on the album demonstrate Adlib’s versatility. Whether onWine featuring Black Space and The Primeridian (below), or Planet Asia on ‘Streets’, the beats are mellowed so as not to intrude on the rhymes. But Frank Nitt’s verse on ‘Bang It Out’ feels lazy, especially given the scope offered by the beat. The tribal 808s and dislocated sirens are let down by clichéd rhymes and a half-baked delivery.

Haus & Garten feels remarkably cosmopolitan. Adlib’s location in Europe strips away expectations of instrumental hip hop, especially music being released in the States, and allows creative space. The eclectic sounds and heterogeneous influences, like the closing track, can’t find their way home. Instead, Adlib creates a new, individual space.

Haus & Garten