Less than two minutes into Live from the Grove, the artist known as 3:33 makes a very important public service announcement: you are in for a demonstration, a ride, “an expedition”—and you best mentally prepare yourself. “The Grove” might refer to the curious case of the Bohemian Grove in California, but here, it’s more of an idea than the actual place, a device meant to evoke remnants of sylvan West Coast mysticism. The album isn’t actually “live,” but it was designed to give you that same feeling that a good artist can give you during a live show—that feeling that crawls up your spine and implants itself into your nervous system like a slow-moving tranquilizer, as if to tell you, “You are about to be transported to another realm, but you are in good hands.”
Artists these days are making an overwhelming return to the old tried-and-true practice of pouring heart and soul in producing one or two solid singles and saying ‘screw the rest.’ Live from the Grove is leagues away from that mindset—this album is a journey from front to back, and it is refreshingly aware of its goal to march on with a consistent pace and flow. 3:33 comes from the DJ Shadow school of sampling and percussion—samples of dialog, breakbeats, and the additional hi-hat work are all close to Shadow’s work on Endtroducing….. But Shadow’s tracks were more about isolating themselves rather than working together as a cohesive whole, and 3:33’s apparent love for cohesion is more reminiscent of Prefuse 73 (especially Prefuse’s equally drugged-up, short-lived side project Diamond Watch Wrists). 3:33 also proves to be obsessed with mood-creating, approaching a technique that’s less disturbing than that of Venetian Snares, but just as imaginative.
Eleven tracks is a long ride for an instrumental album, but it delivers on its promise to enchant—maybe you’ll be too spellbound to notice anything bothersome. Above all the themes and moods and mystique, Live from the Grove is a celebration of the album, and a damn decent one, at that. Let’s go to “The Grove” and celebrate.