1st September 2009 13:38:00
Thavius Beck sets out his terms for Dialogue
Thavius Beck, like many of Los Angeles' independent MCs, cut his teeth at the Project Blowed open mic workshop in LA's Leimert Park. But even in the 1990s, when Beck was a member of Global Phlowtations (along with Mikah-9, Sach, and a handful of others), and went by the handle Adlib, his sights were fixed on the future of music. His debut release, Vs., showcased his ability to both conjure maximal sonic impact with limited means, and his ability to write intricate rhymes and deliver them with an effortless flow (for a good example, check "The Spot" which features Sach). Since the late 1990s, however, Beck has focused much more on the production side of his skill set, releasing full-lengths under the monicker Adlib including Save Us, Experience Experiments, and Manipulator, as well as two full-lengths as Thavius Beck on Mush Records, 2004's Decomposition and 2006's Thru. Beck spent 2007 contributing production work on Saul Williams' Niggy Tardust full-length with Trent Reznor. In 2008, he entered the studio with new LA resident K-The-I???, producing K's entire full-length Yesterday, Today & Tomorrow. The album was licensed by Big Dada, the label that brought you Spank Rock, TTC, Roots Manuva and many more. Between studio sessions, Beck was taking to the road, traveling Europe and the United States as both artist and DJ. His superb live hip-hop beat construction has earned him much recognition among the electronic music community, eventually leading to sponsorships from M-Audio and Ableton, the creators of ubiquitous beat software, Live. Beck's relationship with Live has grown to the point that his tour stops often include him booking Ableton Live instructional workshops in many of the cities he stops in.
In late 2008, Beck wrapped up recording his latest solo full-length, titled Dialogue. Unlike previous efforts, which have featured appearances from Saul Williams, Cedric Bixler-Zavala (The Mars Volta), Subtitle, and many more, the only voice on Dialogue is Beck's own. Across fifteen tracks, including two instrumentals, Thavius cleverly critiques many of America's ills with a dry, satirical wit that never falls into preachiness. "I think an MC should be able to draw on their life experiences and translate them into meaningful songs, maybe even grow a bit after reflecting on it during the song writing process. The writing and recording of Dialogue was a very therapeutic process for me for those very reasons: I took what I was going through in my life and put it on paper; I released my demons and let them dance over my beats."
Sonically, the album reaches new heights for Beck. Taking months to mix, Dialogue is Beck's biggest sounding album to date. Every track bleeds immediacy with warm bass kicks and aggressive highs that sound something like if the Bomb Squad had called Miami home. On his production influences, Beck notes: "I really like prog-rock, weird jazz/rock fusion hybrids, heavy metal, industrial stuff, etc., but I also like soul and funk, older hip hop, grime, some roots reggae. There was an earlier period when I was really influenced by drum-n-bass, and the more pretentiously named Intelligent Dance Music."
Beck's longtime roots in the Los Angeles underground music do manifest in the graphic design of the album, which was created by Sonny Kay, owner of GSL Records, the legendary label that spawned such acts as the Rapture, !!!, the Mars Volta, The Locust, Out Hud and a host of others. The two first worked together when Thavius was producing for GSL's first and only hip-hop signee, Subtitle - who would team up with Beck as Lab Waste for 2005's Zwarte Achtegrond.
For fans of iconoclastic music of any stripe, Thavius Beck presents Dialogue, and proves that the only musical boundaries he sees are ones he has already left behind.
Dialogue is released in the UK on 5th October on Big Dada. The Single "Go! / Away" featuring remixes by Flying Lotus and Offshore is out 26th October