Album Reviews

Dr Who Dat – Beat Journey

(Lex) UK release date: 21 August 2006


Jnerio Jarel is the name behind Dr Who Dat?, the New York-born producer and rapper. The moniker seems to stand for an whose easy going-take on hip hop, soon drawing comparisons with King Britt in its deepness and soulful content. To pursue the parallel with the good doctor a bit further, this album turns into something of a musical tardis, with eighteen tracks clocking in at less than three minutes a go.

Beat Journey is a pretty appropriate name for the record, too, for this is hip hop without the tiresome posturing, more than ready to kick back with mostly instrumental blends of the highest order. That much is clear as early as Braziliant Thought, a warm, mellow bass and chord sequence wandering in tandem while fuzzed-up, lazy saxophone and keyboards drift in and out of focus like a constantly shifting radio dial.

All very promising, and Jarel goes on to capitalise in the least emphatic way possible with the excellent Pharoah’s Dream, whose smoky vibe sounds and loping bass recall the DJ Shadow of Entroducing but tend to rely less on sampled material, taking live instrumentation and working its fragmented contributions into a coherent whole.

After a while you begin to fall under the music’s hypnotic spell, less interested in where certain sounds are coming from than in the overall effect, soothing the beaten brow. It might even go unnoticed that B-Boy Portrait In Spain employs relatively gentle scratching techniques, the odd rewind not distracting from another calming loop, or that there are some weird goings-on in the squiggly sounds of Deep Blaque.

If this is all beginning to sound like a one trick pony, then Jarel helps us to think again, as Stop Calling Me firms up the percussion and adds bite to the bassline, shedding the protective clothing of the first five tracks. Weird harmonies take over in On The Doelow, taking the music to truly strange places but not losing the thread as so many jazz-inflected pieces can.

After these harsher diversions the record starts to come full circle again, and by Ageless Daisy has a long breathed keyboard supporting a faster rhythm and bass atmospherics, then a bewitching muted trumpet solo through Bahia Blues.

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You’ll have gathered that this is the sort of record that enables senses of perspective and time to be lost in a warm, fuzzy head mix, with Jarel’s craft for good instrumentation winning through easily. The lack of pretension or hurry only helps to enhance the enjoyment.


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Dr Who Dat – Beat Journey