E + RO = 3 “The ILLusionist” C27 (Bonding Tapes)

“A trick is something a whore does for money.” —GOB Bluth

E. Ross III knows a little something about ILLusions, and I’m following the capitalization here because it’s the prompt in the title. The ILLusionist is a beat tape, pure and simple, a jazz-inflected instro-hip hop release that makes so much sense on Bonding Tapes, the experimental/hip hop label known for all kinds of far-out sampledelic and synthetic mayhem. But this conjurer of the dark arts, like, say, Saruman, is able to incant some really great spells and string together a lot of disparate samples for an excellent whole. (He is unlike Saruman, fortunately, in his distinct inability to create an army of orcs.) It reminds me, and this is topical because I just busted out this album last week, of DJ Wally’s spectacular The Stoned Ranger Rides Again, itself a glorified “beat tape” released back before the internet was for anything other than downloading files from Napster and, I guess, combing through catalog records in the college library. The ILLusionist is a total throwback in that regard, dropping brilliant spoken samples, slathered in reverb and delay, such as some amazing Richard Pryor standup work on “What It Is.” It’s perfect for chilling out late at night, a hangout tape smoothly produced seemingly from thin air, like an act of sheer magic. Somebody make a Hogwarts reference here like your life depends on it, because it probably does. Or doesn’t – E + RO = 3’s a benevolent wizard!

“…Or cocaine!” —GOB Bluth

Bonding Tapes

--Ryan Masteller