Composer: Astex
Conductor: Astex
Label: Aquired Taste Preferred
Release Date: 2009-09-23
Rated: NONE
Genre: Recording

Several listens in, I’m still not sure exactly what to make of ATP, Vol. III. A 21-track, 37-minute hip-hop album on which most cuts are less than two minutes long (and several don’t make it to the one-minute mark), ATP III is an extremely disorientating experience. There are few hooks to latch onto, the occasional fade-out catches an MC mid-verse, and spoken audio clips that might be standalone skits on another album seem inserted almost at random into the songs themselves. If you aren’t keeping close watch on the track numbers, in other words, you can hardly tell the difference between a brief pause and a new song. But you get the feeling that’s exactly what Astex intended. MCs ReL, PR1, Itzcoatl, and Anglo seem to take a few cues from Definitive Jux’s ultra-dense early ’00s releases (and several more from little green rappers from another dimension), so expect to spend a lot of time with this one if you want to follow the broken stream-of-consciousness. It’s time well spent, though. The album features some inventive lo-fi production — check out the echo-chamber effect on “Frontline Reports,” the gonzo beatbox on “Hip-Hop Girlfriend,” and the string-swell drum-machine team-up on “Evil Stupid Men”— and breathless bilingual flows that never miss a beat in either language. “Acquired Taste” is right, but if you’re a fan of underground, left-field hip-hop, ATP, Vol. III — more than the sum of its tiny, intricate parts — is definitely worth acquiring.

— Jeremy Martin

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