Review of Florida (10th Anniversary Edition) Album by Diplo

As reviewers are known to do, let's get it out there that Thomas Wesley Prentz's adopted tag is apparently short for Diplodicus; the lumbering 8 ton vegetarian dinosaur who got by with a brain the size of your average TOWIE cast member. Diplo hangs now mainly as Major Lazer and is a producer, remixer, DJ Madonna and Skrillex collaborator. Oh, and we forgot to mention former long time squeeze of M.I.A. Wow.

Diplo Florida (10th Anniversary Edition) Album

That cuts a lot of ice at Contact Towers, but then again recently we've seen enough album re-issues to be a little bit wary of anything that's barely out of short pants: call us old fashioned like that. Thankfully 'Florida' - released before our hero was much more than an up and coming beat maker - is the sort of maverick work that definitely bears a re-appraisal.

There are occasions where the source material is that good it becomes diluted by being swamped by a plethora of additional "Stuff", most of which is frequently just things which should have remained on some random hard drive somewhere. 'Florida''s second disk isn't that sort of loosely flapping appendage, but a series of works that are just as incisive as the host. We'll start here then, as the Epistemology suite (Really an oddball triptych) that was released under the Diplodicus banner in 2003 threatens some sort of sensory overload from the beginning. The three parts respectively are A) ear punishing breaks and wah wah sampleadelic grooves ('Don't Fall'); B) Weird stuff ('Like Cats'); and C) cod-dancehall-garage-psychedelia ('You're Enron'). Three points of a very wonky triangle, they're miles off forming any kind of coherent whole, but then again that's probably the point.

Next to that, practically anything sounds more normal: Metronomy turn 'Newsflash' into a suitably bonkers/boffin retread, complete with what sounds like a cyber brass band melody, whilst Derek Allen turns the square jawed menace of 'Summer's Gonna Hurt' and slices it into numerous bass-mental pieces. The re-workings show versatility, but it's Eprom's previously unreleased versioning of 'Lost' that catches the ear the most; taking the original somewhere broken and cosmic, lopping on a series shifting, distorted patterns that are honed into one evil, dubstep sounding groove. Beware your bass speakers.

Despite those best efforts, the main event is still just that, an endless stream of ideas being thrown against a sampler, shifting from hip-hop to ragga to demented, break heavy soul and back again through pretty much the known universe of all things tasty. Channelling the utterly maverick spirit of DJ Shadow's near legendary 'Entroducing' (Not literally, but specifically in Diplo's go anywhere, snatch anything, bend what you have to what you need aesthetic) the listener is left thinking that if Beck was going to re-create 'Where It's At' as a whole album, this would be a lot like the result. It's all good (Great) but the gooder/greaterer tunes are 'Way More' (Old Skool erm... genius), the Martina Topley-Bird assisted 'Into the Sun' and yes, the nine Un-Reduxed minutes of 'Summer's Gonna Hurt You', guitar eddies and beats skulling underneath words that sound like a threat and a promise. It'd been done before even in 2004, but rarely did a prophesy sound this good.

This is a genre stuffed with micro-niche specialists, all of whom like to apply way too much context to everything and cry like babies if they hear the same riff twice. As a concession to them, compared to the hip-hop of 2014, it's far less 8-bit sleazy and basic. However, we're simpler folk here, and music that feels this great - and a release where the additional material doesn't make you feel like you're being taken for granted - always plays big here.  One of the best new/old records of the year. "Dinosaur" indeed.

Andy Peterson


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