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JKR70 Presents Clay Hughes
The Whether Machine
Sharp County Records
www.sharpcountyrecords.com


The Whether Machine is a new project from Kansas City producer JKR70 and Clay Hughes, from Clay Hughes And The What?. The two decided to collaborate after meeting in 2009, and worked with several emcees from the Midwest, including Mac Lethal, Johnny Polygon, and Lucid, as well as instrumentalists Thom Hoglen, Lennon Bone, and Matt Long. "I love working with new people. It brings a new element to the music," says Hughes.

JKR70 uses elements of several different genres of music to create an extremely relaxed style. He combines hip-hop drums with pop-inspired keyboard and synthesizer lines, while tastefully accenting the mix with vinyl scratches and other electronic effects. At the same time, Hughes' smooth and breathy vocals give the songs an unmistakable Citizen Cope quality. The result is a whimsical musical experience; one that can make the listener's troubles melt away.

The first track, "Plaster," introduces the main concept of the album - blending natural and electronic instruments together to create organic grooves. Drums and vocals drive the song's rhythm, while the echoed guitar riff and synthesizer lines back it with a dream-like tone. "Gotta Soul" has a similar sound, with its light synthesizers behind hard-hitting drums and aggressive rap verses. More somber tracks, like "The Love I Gave Ya," "Confessin'," and "The Replacement," draw on the same method, only using the natural sounds of pianos, harps and electric basses for their hooks.

The Whether Machine is an interesting project with catchy lyrics and sounds, but it lacks musical variety. Almost all of the songs have the same, gloomy aura, and the only real variety between the songs comes from similar progressions played on slightly different sounding instruments. There's a cool, relaxed feeling to the music, but after 3 or 4 songs, the listener is ready for a change.

-Colin Moon

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