Cut Chemist, The Audience’s Listening
Warner Bros. Records, 2006
The legendary Cut Chemist brings us the story behind the making of his first solo album
When it came time for Cut Chemist’s first full-length solo album he knew he wanted to push himself, and the boundaries of his craft of sample-based music. Quite the task, considering the height he’d already set the bar at with tracks like the cut ‘n’ paste masterpiece Lesson 6, and the catalogue of funky beats he’d gifted his Rap crew, Jurassic 5.
To clear his mind before the big push, he assembled every loose loop, nagging sample, and chopped-up beat he’d been toying with up to that point and created the epic mixtape, The Litmus Test, as a way of purging old ideas. “It helped me clear my desktop of half-finished things and older projects, and it let me know where I’d been and where I wanted to go from here,” says Cut. “I spent a year making that, but it gave me a fresh start for my album.”
That album was The Audience’s Listening, and over its 12 track running time it takes you further than Cut Chemist ever has before on wax. Armed with an MPC, Pro Tools, and a stack of plundered vinyl, he whipped up a creative riot of samples, funky rhythms, playful scratches, and surprising twists and turns around a world of musical influences.
Tracks like The Garden grow from the seeds of some luscious Bossa and Samba samples, while (My 1st) Big Break channels the start of Pulp Fiction with its dialogue set-up and epic Surf Rock attitude. Spat, on the other hand, transforms the scribbles of scratching into the escalating sounds of an argument between two very odd characters. And A Peak In Time uses the ingenious move of pitching up variations of the same female vocal sample on top of one another in different octaves to create the illusion of a multi-voice choir.
It’s a joy from start to finish, and a peek into a time where man and sampling machine are in perfect harmony.
“This was my first solo album so I put a lot of pressure on myself and build on what I’d done before,” Cut says. “I just wanted to elevate my craft.” Job done.