Cut Chemist's former group, Jurassic 5, performs at the Gypsy Tea Room on Monday, July 31, with X-Clan.
Cut Chemist's The Audience's Listening could be from a time capsule buried in 1998, when epic instrumental albums like Return of the DJ and Q-Bert' s Wave Twisters were all the rage. And that's a good thing. Unfairly maligned in recent years as the province of bedroom geeks disconnected from mainstream rap culture, turntablism still holds creative potential, which the one-time Jurassic 5 member makes astonishingly clear. On "The Garden," Chemist opens with a deft pattern of jazz banjo before laying in an exotic female vocal over orchestral strings and deep, yearning beats. With "Storm," he draws guest MCs Edan and Mr. Lif into an electro-stomper that distorts their voices like zapped antibodies. These primary numbers are surrounded by sample/scratch fancies such as "Motivational Speaker" and "Spat" that hark back to Kid Koala's work. The Audience's Listening is not only witty and lighthearted, but also artfully constructed, and you can hear the depth in its machinations.