Elvin Estela-a.k.a. Nobody-may be one of the only DJ/producers in the world who can capture the soul of head music (think Funkadelic's "Maggot Brain") and make it fresh. On Soulmates, he pulls this off by scraping away the fuzzy detritus of these traditionally brooding, introspective soundscapes and splicing them with breakbeats and guest appearances from some of LA's finest underground rappers, including Medusa and 2Mex. Other producers-Spooky and Shadow come to mind-have taken similar risks, like mixing hip-hop with such wonderful (and seemingly incompatible) music as bebop. But Nobody is pretty limitless with his tastes here, flava-sampling the grandeur of psychedelic rock and the mopey gauze of the old shoegazer movement as well as some of hip-hop's bluster and bravado. When Nobody is feeling soft and quiet, his flow is like a bare-assed glide down a velvet staircase. When he's feeling hard and loud, it blows up into a rumble in the middle of a rappers' duel (MCs show up on five of this album's 18 tracks, with freaky interplanetary stories that would do Sun Ra proud). It all goes off like a mixture of street grit with a fragile, dreamy transcendence, without tripping over a single funky beat-true 21st-century head music that's as dense, hypnotic and real as inner-soulspace can be.
FACE TO FACE
Like any good self-respecting punk band, Face to Face mostly struggled through the past decade without much support from mainstream radio; their only honest-to-god hit, "Disconnected," came out more than five years ago. And compared with the numbers posted by the likes of brat-punks Blink-182, their album sales have been fairly mediocre (1995's Big Choice has sold just over 100,000). But Face to Face really can't concern themselves too much with gold or platinum-it's their ticket-buying fans, after all, who've kept them afloat all these years. So Reactionary is largely a big fat Face-to-Fan payback. Earlier this year, the band uploaded 16 songs onto their official website, asking their disciples to help choose the best 12. Two million votes later, this is what's left: a collection of meaty, menacing SoCal punk anthems, dealing with such existential issues as hindsight ("Out of Focus"), depression ("Hollow") and self-doubt ("Icons"). Face to Face's guitar-grinding sound isn't particularly inventive or original-if anything, on Reactionary they're stealing from the 1991 Face to Face model. But still, the music has a way of sticking inside your skull, and sole original member Trever Keith's words make you actually think-unlike lesser punk acts whose prose too often shoots from a hyper-male POV of sex, violence and poop jokes. Reactionary, then, is really a sort of handjob for your mind-the kind of album you keep digging back out again after you've just put it away. (Stan Kabala)
FACE TO FACE PERFORMS WITH SAVES THE DAY, A NEW FOUND GLORY AND SUM 41 AT THE GLASS HOUSE, 200 W. SECOND ST., POMONA, (909) 629-0377. FRI. AND THURS., SEPT. 28, 8 P.M. $15. ALL AGES.