As experimental hip-hop producers go, Damian "Req" Harris is pretty abstract. Many of the tracks on his fourth album, Car Paint Scheme,
are simply bass and percussion, the latter represented by an 808 kick drum or light, computer-generated noises similar to a reverberating xylophone or a shaking cymbal. The music resembles the jagged synthesizer jams of Yellow Magic Orchestra and Art of Noise. The style with which they are assembled is meant to evoke an early-Eighties b-boy ethos, a lifestyle that the former graff writer trumpets on "Skit 1/Style Mentorz" with the sound of an aerosol can spraying into thin air. But there's not enough color. These instrumentals aren't massive throwups bursting with fluorescent images, but simply black and white outlines, the lettering too complicated for the untrained eye to read.
Car Paint Scheme's handful of accessible cuts arrives near the middle of the hour-long disc. There's "Soul Plot," which flips an echoing guitar riff over staccato turntable cuts and a rambling bass line. "Train Jam" flits between a dub tempo and a brisk, melodic pace while being spliced and chopped up into sharp, albeit funky snippets. These two songs and the amusing (if corny) collaboration with rapper Kid Acne, "Skit 1/Style Mentorz," could be played at a club without angering the patrons; in contrast, the other tracks would just frustrate them with their willful obscurity. But don't fault Req for trying: At least he's making music with an adventurous mind, conjuring a world where hip-hop is transformed into something far beyond what most of us would ever imagine.