Former House-O-Matics dance crew member turned producer RP Boo is credited with spearheading the city’s ‘footwork’ scene, a movement which, despite its twinkling toes, remains firmly-footed in the Midwest. There, Boo is already a legend. Everywhere else, you’ll need Legacy to help determine where you rank Boo – or Kavain Wayne Space – in the roll call of underground electronic pioneers.
This career-spanning compilation from Planet Mu assembles 10 years of tough beats into one mind-melting collection that is hideously unkind on the listener in its first spin thanks to its hectic – mainly 160bpm – tunes and claustrophic production.
The music of Boo is described by Planet Mu boss Mike Paradinas as “the fast, repetitive, rhythmically syncopated music and dance style that’s a grandchild of Chicago house”. Or more accurately, it’s the bastard sound of Chicago house, as there is little here that comes close to the bright and super-slick modus operandi of house other than being destined for a dancefloor.
Armed with his trusty Roland R70 drum machine, Boo’s tunes emerge gritty and raw, layered with double-time chopped beats, staccato accents and killer basslines. This is aided by his deft slight of hand which sees him accomplish two musical ideas or more at one time.
Take the stripped down Invisibu Boogie! with its chopped Boo sample saying “Better make you” with the final words of “come” and “invisible” layered one atop the other. It seems like a simple tune with its creepy echo, a rare rush of pitter-pattered drums and a booming beat. But the simple wordplay trick is enough to convincingly throw off the listener’s ear and let it roll for almost five minutes.
Things get wild on the jazzy, frenetic and tempo-adjusted sax solo on Red Hot, or the Tarzan-sampled, throbbing mania of Battle In The Jungle. And the downright confrontational The Opponent with its rugged bassline is augmented by the late entry of a maddening sub-bassline and horror film-string samples with Boo’s threatening line of “You can’t bang” repeated over and over. There’s not much room to defend yourself on the track as the cacophony of beats grinds down your resistance.
While Boo’s music is rooted in hip hop-style samples and the tempo demands of dancefloors, you can’t help but enjoy his sonic headfuck on Speakers R-4 (Sounds) as he puts the soundsystem through its paces with a surprise attack of clustered drums and minimalistic stabbing bass in the aural collage. “That’s what the speakers are for,” he intones wryly, like a poke in the eye.
As a compilation, whatever flow there is between the tunes is purely coincidental. It’s just 13 killer tracks hovering around the three and four minute mark originally designed for maximum 12” impact rather than a living room listen. But popping on headphones helps appreciate just how much Boo manages to squeeze into his tracks – from the afro-centric Sun Ra style space talk on Area 72 to the raw spoken word samples on 187 Homicide – it’s a delight of frenzied boundary pushing that bulldozes convention and sounds edgier than a cornered porcupine.
Now, it’s worth hoping that Boo takes his newfound fame and creates a cohesive album which manages to harness his wild sonic explorations and clubland flair, while allowing him a bigger canvas on which to experiment.