Music » Livewire

Überzone

Saturday, June 14, at the Eagle's Nest.

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Some say that Timothy Wiles is a scholar/ practitioner of hip-hop from California. Others say that he built his own time machine. Both statements are true.

Wiles's second full-length as Überzone, 2001's Faith in the Future, is omnivorous hip-pop -- scratchy, samply, burbling with electronics, embracing all sounds funky from the past 20 years or so. It's an irony about electronic music that, in order to be futuristic, the creators cannibalize the past. They use outmoded rhythm generators and scour thrift stores for dusty vinyl. Überzone does the classy thing and hooks up Afrika Bambaataa for the stupendous "2KOOL4SKOOL." When Afrika raps, "What is this electro-funk that's driving y'all crazy?", a history of self-referential pop -- "The Twist," "Rapper's Delight" -- swims into focus, just in time for you to notice that electro drove us crazy in 1982 or something. For the listener, it's a moment of highly organized confusion, capped a second later by Afrika's cue, "Überzone/Drop the tone," prompting disorienting gales of Roland effects. And that's just the beginning of one song!

Acid house, breaks, and big beat all get their turn on Faith. So do a lot of guest vocalists, including Lida Husik, who's sampled for the mesmerizing "Dreamtime," and current dancehall star Beenie Man. "Bounce," the best of the five instrumentals on the album, showcases Überzone's turntable theatrics -- like R2-D2 rapping -- over the buzz and throb of acid house. But the title track could be an idea that Boards of Canada had and then forgot. It's neither meaty nor beaty, suggesting that Wiles's faith is tentative, real enough for no more than a contemplative pause before a return to that old-time electronic music.

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