Album Review: Locations: USA

Locations: USA is one of several entries into the long running Jazz Jousters series from Millennium Jazz Music. This series of compilations takes influences and samples from a particular culture, and incorporates those signatures into the productions.

This kind of audio-wanderlust is an excellent idea and does an outstanding job of presenting us with sounds from other cultures, while still staying true to the overall sound profile that Millennium Jazz Music has spent so much time building over the years.

Each production is excellently mixed and doesn’t suffer from the over-eq and post processing issues (at least that I could noticeably recognize in my Sennheiser HD-280 Pros) commonly found in most electronic music today and retains the gritty analog textures and vinyl pops found in some of the best hip hop. The samples here are treated with respect and naturally coalesce with the magnificent boom-bap drums that I have come to know and love. 

Some songs successfully deviate from this sound such as the final track In Peace by Es-k (sounding far more contemporary than some of the other tracks in the compilation) but still manages to fit snugly into the overall dynamic of the album. 

As with most compilations though, some of the tracks didn’t enrapture me as much as others. B-side’s Mindset, label head Gadget’s Bubblicious (reminiscent of Freddie Joachim’s earlier work), Slone’s Let’s Get Free, and Devaloop’s Portraits encapsulate what I feel to be the quintessential American hip hop sound and are my picks of the litter. However it is hardly as scatterbrained as some of the other compilations that i’ve heard and it will ultimately come down to personal tastes, but variations in quality from an engineering perspective are completely absent.

Like the other projects in the long running series, Locations: USA offers a consistent listening experience and doesn’t disappoint. It is a definite must have for fans of sample-based, traditional hip hop productions.

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