Mind Fusion Vol. 1 & 2

(Mind Fusion; 2005)

By Peter Hepburn | 26 January 2008

Mind Fusion Vols. 1 & 2 are a slick little pair of mixtapes that came out in 2004 in Japan and are now being made available in North America on Mind Fusion Records. The typical Madlib twist: Mind Fusion seems to be mostly a figment of his own imagination (think Lord Quas), or at the very least a Stones Throw subsidiary created to cater to Madlib’s more esoteric whims.

Then again, there isn’t much esoteric about Mind Fusion Vol.1. The disc collects a series of Madlib remixes of other artists and of his own work. It’s hit and miss in that blunted-out-of-his-skull Madlib sort of way, but when it hits it’s quite impressive. He doesn’t stray too far from the Stones Throw group, remixing a lot of Wildchild, Oh No, MED, and even Charizma. He’s at his best though when he’s on his own or working with non-Stones Throw rappers. Wildchild connects on “All Night,” but nothing close to Method Man’s vicious delivery on “Uh Meth” --- a remix of “Uh Huh” over a sinister string-heavy beat that rides some well out-there percussion. Following it up with an MOP remix is a match made in gangster heaven.

The two tracks with Doom are nothing new. The revamped beat on “Money Folder” works well, but the addition of Jay Dee on an extended version of “One Beer” doesn’t add much to an already familiar track (especially if Madlib isn’t going throw a new beat under it). The Madlib solo tracks range from decent (“Steal This Beat”) to solid (“Ocampo”) to fantastic (“Galt’s Basement” lives up to the high mark Madlib set with “Supervillian Theme”). Overall it’s a solid mix disc, and it has been growing on me with repeated listens. If nothing else it makes a good companion piece to Peanut Butter Wolf’s Stones Throw 101 mix disc.

The project gets a lot more difficult with Mind Fusion Vol. 2, as Madlib immerses himself in the jazz, funk, and soul that he has so often cited as influences. When Madlib rapped on The Unseen about his love of jazz, he wasn’t fronting, and this disc proves it conclusively. The beatmaster digs through some bizarre stuff to throw this second disc together, but where the first mix hit more often than it missed, Vol. 2’s holes are too significant to overlook. Sure, he does manage the occasional sick groove (and when he does hit it --- for example 4:45 or 14:30 on track one --- it’s nothing short of fantastic), but all too often he’s stuck dawdling overly long in a worn out line. All told, it’s an interesting concept, and he sees it through remarkably well, but for the casual listener, Vol. 1 is still the way to go.

Of course, the casual listener is probably more excited about the new Quasimoto album anyway. In the meantime, these two are more than worth checking out. Hell, the bizarro cover art and liner notes (Vol. 2 just has a Thurston Moore quote) are practically worth the $12 alone.