One of the greatest achievements of Stones Throw records, Quasimoto's 'The Unseen' is a classic of experimental hip hop. Acclaimed crate digger Madlib fashioned his Quasimoto alter ego after indulging in some mushrooms of the magic variety, creating the devious yellow anteater by pitching his voice up a few octaves. Sounds weird huh? Well 'The Unseen' is a bit of a wacky record, though it's psychedelic playfulness shines through jazzy beats, obscure samples and humorous rhymes. It's a Madlib record so you know the beats are going to be top-notch too!
Vinyl Double LP £20.99 STH2025LP
Classic 2LP repress from Madlib on Stones Throw.
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9/10 Tom 21st May 2018
The history of Quasimoto is complicated by producer Madlib's various tellings and re-imaginings and embellishments. The most commonly told version of events goes as follows: super prolific hip hop producer Madlib took some 'shrooms, raided every section of his vast record collection (it apparently weighs more than a ton), and quickly cooked up the psychedelic music that makes up the Unseen. Under the influence of said 'shrooms, and aided by the fact that he hated the sound of his own voice, he decided to pitch-shift it up a bit and in the process the character of Quasimoto (or Lord Quas) was born.
The Unseen is probably the best Quasimoto album, and while Madlib doubled-down on the psychedelic elements in the follow-up (2005's The Further Adventures of Lord Quas), the Unseen has just the right amount of bizarre musicality, obscene comic-book depravity, and chilled, blunted west side hip hop to make it a classic and one of the standout releases on Stones Throw Records. The more well-known songs 'Come on Feet' and 'Good Morning Sunshine' make novel use of samples from Alain Goraguer's soundtrack to La Planète sauvage and vocal samples of blaxploitation auteur Melvin van Peebles, but the more straight-forward 'Microphone Mathematics', 'Basic Instinct' and 'Low Class Conspiracy' are legitimate bangers.
The comical and sometimes schizophrenic vocal interplay between Madlib and Lord Quas only adds to the disorientating tale of a brick-wielding aardvark-like character as he goes around smoking weed, indulging in some ultra-violence, and dropping occasional pearls of wisdom. Madlib is not the world's greatest rapper or lyricist but that really doesn't matter; with the Unseen, he created a world to go explore and get lost in and it's a trip that's worth taking.
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