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Album Review: The Q4 – Sound Surroundings (2010)

Album Review: The Q4 – Sound Surroundings (2010)

Album Review: The Q4 – Sound Surroundings (2010)
Rating: 2.5 out of 5 Potholes

Sound Surroundings is, at a glance, easy to pigeon hole. Released on Germany’s jazz rap-oriented Project: Mooncircle, home of projects by John Robinson and CYNE, it’s not an album whose sound will surprise or shock you you. It is what one might expect a Project: Mooncircle, German producer album to sound like. However, under the surface there’s a little more to the record than that. The group’s name, Q4, stands for QuadraphoniQuartet, and it informs just about everything they do on the production tip. As the cover art implies, Sound Surroundings is certainly one of the year’s first headphone albums. There are a lot of details hidden in the pockets of this music that reward a big headphone budget, and when the details are lacking the main elements shine. The fidelity and sample chops here are definitely appealing.

Unfortunately, like all producer albums the MCs leave a little if not a lot to be desired. One thing’s for sure, they add to the diversity of the album. Terryman does a reasonable impression of DJ Dusk on “Goin’ Down” and Curra Suarez provides a pretty dope cut that blends Mediterranean and Latin sensibilities with “Oscuros Angeles”, but BLS’ voice is a natural progression of Aesop Rock that takes too much effort to get into. PAX, on the other hand, is someone I’d just as soon not pay any attention to as pay barely any attention at all. I think it’s going to be no secret to those that cop this joint that the vocals are easily this album’s low point, and it’s ultimately a little confusing why they’re even here. They give Sound Surroundings a bit of a conscious purpose, but they still feel like vocals for the sake of vocals. I’m not sure why the group felt the need to have vocalists on these tracks, honestly.

Not with the Deadringer-inspired “One of These Days” following a great “Intro”, or the dub experiment “Trouble With Me” closing out the setlist. No, this is definitely an album I would have preferred to hear an instrumental cut of. I think the Quadraphonic stuff is a little overrated, but really, what group obsessed with their own so-called unique production techniques doesn’t give off that vibe? Haterade aside I do really enjoy the first three tracks and the last three, but what lies in the middle is too dull and milquetoast for me to truly get behind. Q4 have a future in international jazz rap production if they can keep cranking out stuff like “Intro” and “Split Personality”. It will be interesting to see if they can harness their few unique qualities in the future and churn out a more entertaining album than Sound Surroundings. For now, though, Q4 qualifies as little more than a blogger-download curiosity.

6 Comments

  1. DJaws
    Apr 08, 2010 @ 20:21:41

    Come on – The BLS and Pax songs are both very dope, highlights of the album for me, I actually found most of the instrumentals on this album to be pretty unoriginal. Reminds me of Maker’s album “Honestly” which was done years ago.

  2. Katharsis
    Feb 16, 2010 @ 17:16:15

    2 more words. i should have also stated, that “sound surroundings” has not become the record it possibly should have…”transitions” by arts is way better, in my opinion.
    and you’ve mentioned german producer albums especially. try jr & ph7. they’ve released a banger last year.

  3. Katharsis
    Feb 16, 2010 @ 13:33:10

    Whut? No words about the dark an warm moods throughout the whole autumn-like album?
    and the guys are absolutley not affiliated with germany, because them are netherland-broads.
    if you prefer the more instrumental tracks, try arts the beatdoctor. he’s a quarter of the q4 and his first lp is a gem.
    and where the heck have some tracks already been released?

  4. Qlaw
    Jan 24, 2010 @ 05:28:46

    Somebody got me a link where I can down to the load this album?

  5. JustPlans
    Jan 24, 2010 @ 02:44:33

    Despite the weird lingo totally agree with the score big disappointment number of the songs were featured on other projects already and with that kind of production team this could have been a real masterpiece. haha and on future reviews it’s never a good way to start an article with bashing mooncircle or saying all producer albums have bad mc’s. germany stand up

  6. Zach Cole
    Jan 23, 2010 @ 17:56:56

    Very nice review. Despite the ranking, you’ve got me intrigued by this one, if for nothing more than the production. (Might be my blogger-downloading curiosity at work…) Just may look into this one.

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