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Wugazi
13 Chambers Tom Watson , August 2nd, 2011 14:44

The childish novelty of mashups can be rather piteous. Barring the maladroit labelling (literally requiring one to mash up...), the genre is acclimatised to hesitant MP3 shufflers, desperately endeavouring to instigate a “party atmosphere.” Habitually abusing classics of their unabridged entirety for a brief bass interlude from Cannonball or a swift verse from Skeelo. It's the easy option. But it never ceases to be engaging.

Frankensteins of the trade (such as Girl Talk and Danger Mouse a la The Grey Album) suffer from what appears to be some form of musical ADHD, frequently sounding confused. It's as if they were splicing together archived Festive 50s blindfolded. At times, short spurts of genius emerge, but are instantly bastardised by a jokey scramble of glitches and fragmented segues. They are commonly just ideas, which, on paper, may sound colossal, but, in reality, should just remain as ideas.

Nonetheless, Doomtree's Cecil Otter and Swiss Andy have seemingly embraced the niche art of cut & paste with an idea so radically unorthodox it seemed utterly nonsensical: applying the progressive bleakness of DC's post-rock noisemakers, Fugazi, to the collective lyrical works of Wu-Tang Clan and their sizeable afilliations.

Despite MacKaye's passive-aggressive temperament and his relationship with verbal retaliation, none of his exploits hinted that he ever wished to ʻbring da muthafuckin' ruckus.' Yet, with the mashing aides of Otter and Andy, the clan spit fury to empty guitar clanks and inward, visceral production standards.

Aptly titled Wugazi, 13 Chambers, the duo set out a thirteen song collision course of extraordinary proportions. Paying homage to both groups' extensive back-catalogues (which, in terms of Wu Tang Clan, side-projects and all, falls in the thousands), the Doomtree partners reveal a realm to the chambers, which, before the advocation of MacKaye et al, was non-existent.

With clear ambition to innovate over impeccable production values, attention to the natural progression of the record is, at times, inconsistent. Replacing the washed out honky tonk plonk cuts of 36 Chambers' 'C.R.E.A.M.' with the mellow burping piano work of Instrument's 'I'm So Tired', 'Sleep Rules Everything Around Me', proves to be a somewhat weak choice as a dominant opener. Raekwon husks intrusive verses over harsh, cheapened drum samples, while MacKaye's haunting vocals culminate to shy hushes. Ultimately anticlimactic in comparison to the weight and worth of the originals.

Yet 13 Chambers enables to maintain firm composure, attentively grappling with the giddying production standards of each edit with undeniable prowess. Boldly assembling sample over sample like a game of Jenga in reverse. The minor chordal modes of Fugazi's 'No Surprise' depressingly jangle around RZA's rasping warbles from Gravediggaz' '1-800-Suicide', to mobilise 'Suicide Surprise'. The beefy discordance of Repeater's 'Blueprint', coupled with the brutish tempestuousness of Ol' Dirty Bastard's stylings for 'Shame On A Nigga', constructs a deeply powerful cadence in 'Shame On Blue'.

What is most astounding about this project is just how complimentary the groups are to one another. 'Another Chessboxin' Argument' pumps like the cock of a semi-automatic shotgun as MacKaye humbly swoons over sleepy melodies. 'Ghetto Afterthought' illustrates Otter and Andy at their cheekiest, amalgamating Instrument's 'Afterthought' with a multitude of the clan's Killa Bees, including Olʻ Dirty Bastard's featured stanza for Mya's 'Ghetto Superstar', and Ghostface Killah's ballsy bars on P. Diddy's 'Special Delivery'.

With only slight intervals from Fugazi's trademark release, Waiting Room, in 'Nowhere To Wait', and no evidential reference to Gravel Pit, Wugazi rejects the refinements of cliché. The extracurricular research and analysis from Otter and Andy is categorically impressive. Only truly devout fans could muster something which, on paper, would seem like such novel nonsense but, in reality, sounds absolutely colossal.

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