"Una Cinta"/"Workout Mix Ext. Suite" C54
(Ranch Jams)

On paper, a hip-hop/techno combo tape doesn't seem like a good idea. Hip-hop is known for its swinging rhythm, for being organic and alive, whereas techno often prides itself on speed, harshness, and strict 4/4 beats. Technically speaking, this isn't a combination of the two. Side A, by Dot Pony, is a hip-hop blend. Side B is a techno mix by Richard Phillip Smith. But despite the difference in genres and labels, there's still cohesion between them.

"Workout Mix" is jumpy and quick-paced, with smooth transitions and a superb sense of scale. It feels like a piece that understands exactly what it is, with a medium sense of scale and rewarding emotional depth. There's a continuous thread of anxiety (described accurately as "nervous, aching" on the case) throughout that keeps the mood going. "Dot Pony" is a more relaxed listen, journeying in a less clear fashion through a path both brighter and darker, less consistently flavored for better and for worse. It has everything from soul-sampling NY boom-bap to dark horrorcore-flavored Memphis rap. 

Both of them carry an energy of spontaneity that keeps things fresh in styles that can easily bore otherwise. There are vocal bits on both sides (an infamous flip-flop brag is the only sample I recognized), and almost obligatory tendencies to shift to and from ambient waves and harder beats, whether they feel inspired by Jay Dee or Derrick May. So while I still don't know if I'd ever want a full-on hip-hop/techno fusion, this proves that they're not as different as I thought.

--Kirk Bowman