Tag Archives: Deltron 3030

Guest review: Harris Pittman on Deltron 3030′s Event II

deltron_cover

Last year, Harris Pittman, bassist for the now-disbanded L.A. group Henry Clay People, took part in the I Used to Love H.E.R. series to declare his affinity for Deltron 3030′s self-titled debut, released in 2000.

With the group’s follow-up finally released – 13 years later – Pittman has kindly returned to offer his take on Event II.

Deltron 3030 – which consists of Del the Funky Homosapien, Dan the Automator, and Kid Koala – live in the future.

Maybe not the year 3040 as the their second full length, Event II, suggests, but it’s got a good 15 years ahead of anything going on right now in hip-hop. Before you start listing off the members of Odd Future or A$AP Mob, remember Dan the Automator did that 17 years ago with Dr. Octagon.

Event II, has our protagonist, Deltron, living in a world where technology is so far advanced that society has imploded. His rhymes transcend time and remind us that power can, and will, corrupt. Del takes the high road and informs the listener of a greater goal for the future instead of quarreling with tangible enemies – maybe his peers that live above the underground in 2013 should take a listen.

Like 2000′s self-titled Deltron 3030, Event II embraces one of the most important elements of hip-hop: the DJ. Koala’s cuts remind us that scratching is an art form – one that can provide hooks. It may be the 31st century, but Koala refuses to see the art of scratching vinyl go the way of the rewind button.

Though the future is bleak, Automator provides a soundscape that recalls Maurice Jarre scores and samples from David Axelrod’s Urizen, from 1968′s Song of Innocence. The track “Nobody Can” slaps you with a bass line reminiscence of Prince Paul’s “Steady Slobbin” from Prince of Thieves, mixed with a Syd Barret-esque guitar that any Black Angels fan will envy. The bass lines on Event II are thick and nasty; we can thank Merlo Podlewski (aka J. Radio) for lending his wisdom.

Casual shares a track with Blur/Gorillaz frontman Damon Albarn, “What is This Loneliness.” Del and Casual, both founding members of Oakland’s Hieroglyphics, rhyme over spaghetti western guitar until Albarn drops, “It’s all in your head, this loneliness I’m feeling,” a haunting chorus that seems to invoke that hope is soon to be lost.

“Look Across the Sea” features the hopeful vocals of actress Mary Elizabeth Winstead (who played main love interest Ramona Flowers in Scott Pilgrim Vs. the World) – perhaps a surprise at first, but after listening to this countless times, it’s becoming a standout track. While Deltron 3030 is often referenced as “underground hip-hop,” “Looks Across the Sea” could top any mainstream hip-hop station and maybe it should.

On “Do You Remember,” the vocals of English jazz/pop singer/songwriter Jamie Cullum seem to float over Del’s insight. It’s the perfect complement to the aforementioned Albarn track, but this time with a dash of optimism.

This volume of the Deltron saga features many guest appearances, from Mike Patton’s hook on debut single, “City from the Rising Ashes,” to insights on a foodie culture – or lack thereof? – by David Cross and chef David Chang.

Successfully following up a phenomenal debut record 13 years later is always a task that very rarely, if ever, accomplished. Event II defies those odds. Perhaps musician/producer Eric Bachmann was right with his comment that “the underground is overcrowded” – so maybe it’s time for Deltron 3030 to destroy mainstream hip-hop.

I Used to Love H.E.R.: Harris Pittman (Henry Clay People)

henryclaypeople

The 55th installment of I Used to Love H.E.R., a series in which artists/bloggers/writers discuss their most essential or favorite hip-hop albums and songs, comes from Harris Pittman, bassist for the Los Angeles-based Henry Clay People, who are playing Crescent Ballroom on Thursday night in support of their new album Twenty-Five for the Rest of Our Lives, out now on TBD Records.

Pittman dissects a not-so-obvious classic, an album whose much-anticipated follow-up is rumored to be finished with a possible release later this year.

deltron 3030Deltron 3030, self-titled
(75 Ark, 2000)

Picking a favorite hip-hop record is – for me at least – a difficult task. I will spare you the obvious favorites from Run DMC, Public Enemy and A Tribe Called Quest. Picking those groups are like picking The Beatles, Led Zeppelin and Nirvana for me, respectively. The importance of their records are well-known, but my go-to record is more like The Soft Bulletin of hip-hop, Deltron 3030. It’s the work of mastermind Del the Funky Homosapien, Dan the Automator (Dan Nakamura) and Kid Koala, along with contributions from Damon Albarn and others.

Deltron 3030 is Del and Dan the Automator’s concept album of a dystopian society with only one hope: Deltron Zero. Throughout this tale of hip-hop sci-fi set in the year 3030, Del delivers abstract ideas set against Nakamura’s signature production. Deltron 3030 takes the idea of Nakamura’s previous effort, Dr. Octagon (with Kool Keith), and solidifies his vision with more intelligent and digestible rhymes from Del. Nakamura fuses odd samples, like the hook from the 1970 tune “Of Cities and Escapes” by Canadian pop group The Poppy Family on the track “Madness” to my favorite bass line on the album. The list of abstract samples continues further. Ever heard of the 1968′s “No Silver Bird” by Hooterville Trolley? Me neither.

Deltron 3030, released in 2000, really needs to be heard to understand how out of the box this record is to be fully appreciated. While many of the ideas are futuristic and more 1984 than “Fight the Power,” these tracks stand the test of time and will still be relevant for the next 1,018 years. Put any of them against your choice of mainstream hip-hop “hits” of the last twenty years and Deltron Zero will still remain victorious.