Album Review: Turntable Technology - Pablo

You don't know it but, if you are a 18 to 35 year old male at least, there is a good chance you are already familiar with Pablo's work. Having been responsible for the incidental music in Grand Theft Auto IV BlackPlastic had certainly heard an hour or so of his work before ever even hitting play on Turntable Technology.

The link is not obvious though. Only on the dramatic instrumental sounds of 'Rooftop Chase' does Pablo's soundtrack ability really come to the fore, although we have to concede it is a better effort than anything in Grand Theft Auto's incidentals.

Turntable Technology is a dizzying album. Two discs - the second of which is completely instrumental (featuring some tracks from the first, along with some original pieces) - and a massive 27 tracks. Frankly there is simply far too much content here to get to grips with. Recalling the turntablism and instrumental hip-hop of early Shadow, producing a record of such length is an interesting (if misguided) approach for a genre that normally focuses on playing as much as possible at once rather than dragging things out.

Inevitably the result is ultimately flawed, but it is perhaps brilliantly so. There is simply too much filler. The opening title track introduces the album's main theme - turntablism itself - through a stale monologue describing the features of a record player. Like we have never heard that trick before. It's old and tired before it has even begun and to make matters worse it's a trick the album repeats more than once. So far so yawn.

Yet elsewhere things aren't just good, they are great. 'The Story of Sampling' mixes together more raps than you would think you could recognise into one flow that genuinely works. But Turntable Technology is at its best when it abandons it's hip-hop roots as on 'Music Maestro' and the truly beautiful closing track to disc one, 'High Jazz'. Not since Shadow's first album and the Avalanche's epic Since I Left You has BlackPlastic been quite so spellbound by sample-based music.

The instrumentals on disc two are somewhat pointless when the originals are so close and they give the album a thrown together feel, which risks undermining the work that has gone in to this release. There are stand out moments from the unique tracks not featured on disc one however - the closing couplet of 'Journey's End' and 'Reincarnation' being prime examples.

Turntable Technology suffers from failing to be as clever as it thinks it is - less would certainly have been more - but the highlights are enjoyable enough to ensure the error is accepted, if not overlooked. It needs re-sequencing and editing but there is without doubt at least one album's worth of quality tunes here.

BP x

Turntable Technology is released on Soma on 9 November, available for pre-order on on CD [affiliate link].