If there was ever a close cousin to DJ Shadow, Blockhead is definitely part of the family of culturally captivating and artistically complex hip-hop artists.
As a producer for himself and on other projects, including Aesop Rock’s Labor Days and the new album, Blockhead actually gets outside of his head, drinking in his urban surroundings of New York City.
Symphonic strings layered over vintage movie and song samples from the 20’s and ‘30s, glimmering tweaks, horns, piano and the complex lines of jazz drums tell the story behind this title of Downtown Science. On the first track “Expiration Date” he seems to take the clashing of garbage can, pouring rain and the flight of pigeons and turns into something beautiful. We get a lesson in music composition and concrete funk when “The Flirt of Walking” takes us from The Bronx sidewalks all the way down to the East Village nightclubs. Rubber bands, tin cans, a street corner skit-skat make up a frothy batch on “Dough Nation” with enough to satisfy and get you back during your “Long Walk Home,” taking in the smallest details of the city that surrounds you.
Downtown Science introduces an exotic, ivory chess set to the hip-hop neighborhood games, a thinking man’s hip-hop where even after many plays, you continue to learn and hear something new, and may even be taken by surprise.
The DVD that accompanies the CD includes some sights behind Blockhead’s sounds, using a competition enable indie filmmakers to create music videos for a few selected songs. The winners are included for your viewing pleasure.