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“CINEMATIC ORCHESTRA” by MarWax
Upon receiving DJ Happee’s CD “Cinematic Orchestra” I didn’t know what exactly to expect. First of all, let me tell you how I first found out about Happee and Zone-Seven Productions.
While surfing the net a long time ago, I noticed the names Happee and Dinoh, as some guys posting more and more sound files of their practice sessions. By that time I was still a little suspicious about all those tons of files lurking in the web-world. One day Happee and Dinoh posted two real video types and a message at TTNN asking for feedback. A guy replied: ”Happee + Dinoh. Are you two married ?” (something like that). I found it really funny, and decided to check the videos. I soon discovered, that it was not the usual internet-nerd thing, but some serious and funky ish. From that day on, I kept looking for more info on the men. The investigation led me to the early version of zone-seven.com and to a lot more sound files. Both Happee and Dinoh showed extra ordinary scratching skills and production quality.
Some stubborn heads may claim, that both Happee and Dinoh made their name only by posting pre-recorded files and not by winning competitions, blah, blah, blah and so on. The question is: what about djs who get second or third place ? What about those, who get no place at all ? Are they useless ? Should they dissapear from the face of earth ? But then again, who is good, skillful and objective enough to judge and crucify the others ?
Get the point ?
Happee and Dinoh (and the rest of their crew) have proven, that a good dj is made of skills, determination and potential. I may not know the guys personally, but I’m sure, that they are working hard. There are not many complete albums by turntablists so far, after all. I mean, there are only a few turntablist musicians out there, who are patient enough to move from the usual practice sessions and c o m p o s e a full album. Happee is definitely one of them.
The album flows like water. There is a variety of styles, covering everything: from the hardcore-turntablist tracks to the mellow (music, like Nicks would say) compositions and from the drum’n’bass-meets-the-turntables hybrid to the wordplay-tracks (reminiscent of Revolution). It may not be the heavy scratch orientated album, like say “Wave Twisters”, but this is the point: “Cinematic Orchestra” succeeds in creating a plethora of feelings to the listener, without having to replace every instrument with the turntable, just to follow the trend. In Happee’s own words “not every instrument’s sound can be replaced”. There will be haters, of course. It is the same people, who declared H+D “the poor man’s Q+D” (as if a comparison is necessary) and they will throw flames “Cinematic Orchestra” (but in their deeper thoughts they wish they could do it themselves).
I think it would be fair to give a track-by-track coverage :
1. Intro: A typical wordplay introduction with a nice solo near the end. It is similar to the intro from Happee’s Mixwell tape (you can still download it from www.zone-seven.com – if you didn’t know, now you know !). Furious and energetic , it sets the standard for more to come.
2. Count drill: Nice rhythm and bassline all scratched by the man Happee himself. A snippet was featured a long time ago, and was one of the first files that drew my attention regarding the H+D stuff, and therefore it sounds special (to me).The scratch solos are great.
3. Porno alert: A track dedicated to the internet geeks, who spend countless hours surfing the porn sites. Very nice scratch flow using both typical and new sounds. One of the tracks you would play to a listener, who wants to find out what turntablism is all about.
4. Scrappin (Scratching + Rapping): A nice turntablist
track, which combines nice scratch solos with some interesting
wordplay (even though the Derek B phrase is out-of-synth).One
of my favorites, with a ‘pure hip-hop’ drum section and nice
5. Cofessions of a dj groupie: One of the two tracks,that were
available a long time ago in zone-seven as a sample of the
album.One of the best intros ever (Happee, we have to meet
that girl !!!) that lead to a nice track based around the general
idea of Q-Bert’s ‘Afrodisiscratch’ :using scratch to create porn-
like images. ‘Confessions’ is much softer, of course. Great use
of the female voice sample.
6. The end of scratching: A showcase track, that features the
talents of Happee’s partner-in-crime Dinoh, and German
scratchmaster M-Tech. The negative point in this track is the
‘abuse’ of panning and effects, but it is a matter of taste after
all. The beat is a familiar uptempo one (cannot remember
where I heard it !) and the scratching is nice.It is constructed
like a ‘normal’ song, with a chorus and each dj doing one
.7. Murder theme: A really unusual and melancholic piano-driven
tune, which adds to the variety of the album. It is strategically
put after the furious ‘End of Scratching’ in order to help the
listener relax. The piano (played, not sampled) sounds as if it
was taken off a mystery movie soundtrack, while the scratches
remain on the background.
8. Bite marks: A track dedicated to the ‘sucker djs that bite’ (we ain’t gonna call no names here !!!). Even though hip-hop itself is a collage of cultures and elements, biting has always been the thorn in hip-hop’s side (especially when it comes to djing ,nowadays !).
10 . The Drummer: The drummer has always been the musician mostly associated to the dj. This track is dedicated to the drummer. A sweet, melody leads to a nice, funk drum solo. Reminds of the track “The Rhythm” from DJ Revolution’s album, only without the scratches.
11. Yack fou:
12. Alejandro’s: A skit…
13.Last night I ruled the world: The second of the pre-available
tracks is driven by a strong string section, that indentifies the
general mood. Nice scratch solos (even some drumming ).The
music sample sounds very familiar (I can swear I have heard it
It is still available on the site. Why don’t you have a listen and judge by yourselves ?
14.Yuri’s flight: A weird drum’ n ’bass-like track ,which reminds
me of some early experimental tracks I was listening to when I
was into the general d’n’b-junglist thing. Nothing very special
here production-wise, but on the other hand one of the
strongest points of the album, because Happee proves himself
to be an all-round producer and not stuck only to turntablist
stuff. It is definitely worth a listen.
15.Outro: Perhaps the most ‘moving’ track. It has nice string
sessions scratched in ,that create an overall moody
environment. It is like the calm after the storm. A cleverly
composed track, that leaves a nice taste in the mouth, once the
cd reaches the end…
This is it. The album comes as a pleasant surprise for the more serious audience (people who claim, that scratching is only for kids). It speaks to listeners, who are actually into music and like to avoid the categorization of musical styles. It is an album suitable for both the scratch nerd and the music collector. It’s main advantage is that ,unlike others, it does not become boring. Happee does not underestimate the listener by delivering a quick-made scratch album, but plays with the various moods and feelings, that music can create. The strong point is that scratching does not repeat itself, it is not too much and there is plenty of space for the listener’s ears to ‘breathe’.
Regardless if someone likes it or not, it is definitely a really good effort, that will be remembered for the years to come.