Antidote: illy B Remixes, volume II – Billy Martin and various artists
Amulet Records 008
Seeing a band for the first time, or listening to a new album, there has to
be a quality about them or it that clicks and makes the listener want to
commit to the music (or not). Billy Martin's second volume of breakbeat
remixes, Antidote, is filled with a rich, full sound, packed to the
gills with squonking horns and creepy samples, and exploding in
three-dimensional stereo, but all seems to lack the switch that engages the
ear on anything more than a moment-to-moment basis. The music features
Martin's drumming (as released on 2001's Groove, Bang, and Jive
Around) remixed and expanded on by a number of DJs and producers,
including Uninvisible collaborators DJ RPM and DJ P-Love, as well as
Big Hair, Pistol Pete, and others.
Some albums, like Beck's Sea Change and Bob Dylan’s Nashville
Skyline, have resilient surfaces. In their elastic simplicity, they are
surprisingly hard to penetrate. At first, Antidote feels like it is
missing a surface, that it is all depth — as if it should yield some
totally meaningful sonic experience every time one slips the headphones on.
But, despite Martin's drumming acting as a current through the whole record,
there is no thread that pulls it all taut.
That said, listening to individual tracks (and certainly isolated moments
from individual tracks), much of the music on Antidote is brilliant.
Though it ultimately lacks the momentum-laden coherence of its predecessor,
last year's Drop The Needle, it moves Martin's source material
further into abstraction. Taken with its forebears, it is a progression,
like an ongoing improvisation through a broader musical landscape. And,
instead of sitting behind a drum kit, Martin has taken more of a curatorial
role, combining musicians and situations as carriers of his ideas.
In that way, especially coming as quickly on the heels of Drop The
Needle as it did, Antidote is just another performance. Listened
to like that, it's a wonderful disc. A performance need only be surface,
more informal than an album, and without the weight of making a Major
Statement. This is not a Major Statement, though perhaps it is part of an