Rjd2 has changed labels for his latest release, The Third Hand, moving from left-field hip-hop label Def Jux to XL Recordings, home of indie rock favorites the White Stripes and Thom Yorke.
This record finds Rj playing and recording every instrumental sound as well as singing on almost every track; a fair change from the all-instrumental days of his debut album Deadringer. Gone are the days of dance-hop oriented sounds with simple, beat-soaked power. What we have here is a natural progression from 2004’s Since We Last Spoke, an album that incorporated more structural and vocal elements.
This album consists of gentle, harmonic lyrics combined with layered samples, sequences, analog synths, electric pianos, and guitars. Tracks like “Beyond the Beyond” and “Reality” are perhaps the best fruition of Rj’s intelligent combination of rhythmic production and indie rock/pop sensibilities. On the other hand, tracks like “The Bad Penny” and “Paper Bubbles” layer too many different sound elements and end up sounding discordant.
“Laws of the Gods” is an oddly arranged song about a lazy, unemployed man. The mantra “Lazy man/ You broke the laws of the Gods.” While poignant, it’s a hard one to hear repeatedly. The result is an album with a few good tracks, but just as many that are easy to skip over. However, perhaps the most impressive aspect of this album is Rjd2’s globalization, as it were, of different musical genres. Within a single track, he manages to incorporate sounds of hip-hop, funk, indie rock, pop, math rock, jazz, and more.
It is easy to hear the high-quality producing and songwriting that Rj uses on this album, unfortunately the entire work as a whole has less fervor than his two previous albums. The good news is that with an artist as innovative and talented as Rjd2, we can certainly expect to hear yet another incarnation of his musical style in the future.