Breakbeat Era | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

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The name of Roni Size and DJ Die's new project had me excited: frankly, I was hoping they'd stood up the double bass of their previous project, Reprazent, like a bad date and made a messy, exciting album of old-style rolling jungle breaks, riffing pianos, synth blats, screaming divas, absurd low-frequency oscillations, the works. Instead they've made--who'd have guessed?--an album of female-vocal-led, state-of-the-art drum 'n' bass with the same splinters of acoustic guitar and vibraphone that made Reprazent's 1997 smash, New Forms, a favorite of coffeehouse employees around the globe. Drum 'n' bass lifers liked New Forms too, but for Size and Die's lean, mean beats and textures--and fortunately those also carry over to Breakbeat Era's debut, Ultra-Obscene (XL/1500/A&M), which will be released this week. Vocalist Leonie Laws isn't the most inventive front woman in the world--there are stretches where ev'rything is phrased the same, in three descending notes that match the double-bass lines--but mostly her melodies enhance the proceedings, and "Rancid," "Ultra Obscene," and "Bullitproof" are as flat-out catchy as vocal drum 'n' bass gets. For this performance, Size and Die will provide turntable and programming accompaniment to a four-piece band fronted by Laws; they'll also perform DJ sets, joined by fellow Reprazenter Dynamite MC. Sunday, 9 PM, Metro, 3730 N. Clark; 773-549-0203. MICHAELANGELO MATOS

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Phil Knott.

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