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6/10 Vern Customer review, 7th October 2013
'Alone' is the first volume in a two lp release for the overall album 'Alone Together' by Karriem Riggins, a drummer from Detroit who is quite something in jazz and hip hop circles. Indeed it is the beat that is celebrated here in this, Riggin's first release, an instrumental hip hop album that pops with swing and a jazz vibe that gives it a chilled out feel which can be quite hard to find in many instrumental hip hop albums which tend to compensate for the lack of bruising lyrics with punchy beats.
That's not to say that the beats here aren't punchy. Opening track 'Round the Outside' has a squelchy beat and tinkling percussion with echoing gongs which makes for a great, classic hip hop instrumental which is calling out to be played in parties.
'Moogy Foog It' continues in a similar fashion with some electronic rhythm, but it's Riggin's drum brush work on the symbol which makes it pop and give it and other tracks in which it is used, that jazz feeling.
'Stadium Rock' is a nice hip hop beat which finally turns into a smooth jazz rhythm which steals the show. 'Alto Flute' has some nice spoken word parts which I really dig but I can't help but feel that the electronic rhythms aren't grabbing me, they aren't making me totally engaged with the music, making the tunes often feel like a background music which, whilst not a bad thing, is not like other instrumental hip hop albums, namely the stuff from the master, J Dilla, whose music is engaging, surprising and rhythmic.
Whilst it would be unfair to compare this to Dilla, I do feel that 'Alone' may be falling a little short of where it could have been. The moments of jazz that are glimpsed in the tracks are the highlight but are unfortunately underdeveloped and leave me feel content with 'Alone' but wanting a little extra from 'Together'.
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- Alone by Karriem Riggins
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