Clear-Eyed and Painless 

The Beautiful World of Boom Bip

Boom Bip
Mon May 30
Holocene
1001 SE Morrison

Cincinnati-born Boom Bip (aka Bryan Hollon) has been rapidly developing a place for himself as one of the premier producers of this half-expired decade, straddling the rails between experimental indie hiphop and nerve-tickling electronica with aplomb. Boom Bip's debut recording was, oddly, a collaboration--2002's Circle paired him with Anticon brainstud Doseone to impressive effect. Less a showdown than a relatively polite holding of hands, Boom Bip's varied and harried tracks took something of a backseat to Dose's erudite musings. Regardless, Hollon's style, a combination of Hitchcockian dread, Boogie Down Productions bump, Amon Tobin-ish jazz infusions, and a dollop of Eno, made a pretty sterling first impression.

His sophomore record, the more self-defined Seed to Sun (on Warp partner Lex Records), catapulted Hollon into a higher echelon of indie cred and garnered a ton of comparisons to both the Ninja Tune and Def Jux camps of skewed musical science. However, Hollon's frequent comparisons to Def Jux commander El-P grow odder with every Boom Bip release; despite some undoubtedly similar interests and influences, the sort of sunsick prettiness that Boom Bip is mining falls far from El-P's grimy thunderstorm sonics.

The spanky-new Blue Eyed in the Red Room stakes Hollon's somewhat gentler and more well-adjusted role in the world of experimental hiphop even more clearly than its predecessor. Rarely diverging from mid-tempo, gluttonously detailed constructions, the record often evokes the sort of soundtracks designed for European crime movies. Not unlike Virgin Suicides-era Air, the album feels greatly informed by the more heartsick corners of '70s rock music; the instrumental half of Bowie's Low seems like part of the bedrock, while the vocal turn from Super Furry Animals' Gruff Rhys is deeply reminiscent of Dark Side of the Moon.

The record occasionally borders on drowning in prettiness but ultimately Boom Bip, like Eno, tempers his pieces with enough stylistic and emotional intrigue to maintain a balance between beauty and content.

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