Sixtoo – Chewing on Glass & Other Miracle Cures

Sixtoo
Chewing on Glass & Other Miracle Cures

DJ Shadow’s Endtroducing… was a landmark record for a number of reasons, perhaps the most enduring being that it legitimized instrumental hip-hop as an art form that could appeal to a wide underground audience, if not the mass consumer market. Of course, the drawback to this sort of thing is that you immediately have a million white-boys faking the wickity-wicky with four jazz records and a drum machine.

Of course, you’d expect none of this from the venerable Ninja Tune label, and true to form, Sixtoo’s new album, Chewing on Glass & Other Miracle Cures, is devoid of any of the amateurism that has plagued so many of Shadow’s followers. In fact, the Shadow reference is mostly out of line anyway; Sixtoo doesn’t work a whole lot of samples, and while the breakbeats reveal his hip-hop lean, you’d be hard pressed to find very many MCs who could flow over Sixtoo’s vicious machinations. In other words, Sixtoo isn’t a Shadow clone, and he may not even be a follower, but Chewing on Glass & Other Miracle Cures carries the same dark, forceful gravitas as Shadow’s work, even if it doesn’t draw from the same palette.

On many of the 17 songs on this album, Sixtoo feels like he’s pushing the propulsive breaks up against the grainy, horror-show IDM, and neither side’s getting anywhere – somehow, he makes this sound like a good thing. “Boxcutter Emporium Pt.2” throws an incredible beat behind five minutes of what sounds like a housefly being electrocuted. “Funny Sticks Reprise” brings an actual MC in, although he forced to spit through about six miles of static. The Eastern-tinged “Horse Drawn Carriage” meanders a bit, but could’ve been a Radiohead track Radiohead had, you know, rhythm.

In fact, the use of actual guitar seems to pick up quite a bit toward the end of the album. “The Honesty of Constant Human Error” employs a trippy, confused guitar that bounces of the beat’s walls for most of the track. Unfortunately, by the time the nine-minute “Storm Clouds & Silver Lining” rolls around, the effect of the guitars feel forced, despite the spastic vocals of Damo Suzuki.

But the successes far outweigh the failures. In the end, the biggest problem with Chewing on Glass & Other Miracle Cures is sequencing: The first half of the album is filled with gorgeous, two- and three-minute bursts of energy, while the second half contains a number of drawn-out dirges that, while not bad, suffer from being placed next to each other. Attempting to describe the nuance and skill of every track on Chewing on Glass & Other Miracle Cures would be futile. Fans of forward-thinking IDM and instrumental hip-hop should seek this out immediately.