Riow Arai Mind Edit (reissue)

[Leaf; 2003]

Rating: 3.5/5

Styles: instrumental hip-hop, breakbeat, progressive techno
Others: Aphex Twin, Rza, Dabrye, DJ Krush, Prefuse 73, Manitoba

Arriving from Tokyo, Japan is producer Riow Arai and an offering titled Mind Edit. Falling somewhere in between instrumental hip-hop and breakbeat electronica, Riow’s combination of crispy drums, herky-jerky chopped rhythms, and constant use of panning make for a nice collection of chaotic beats. Originally released in 1999 on the Soup-Disk label, Mind Edit has been given new representation in 2003 by the celebrated Leaf label, with a new cover and a precursor EP called Disturbance.

The first proper track, "Undulation," sets the pace for the first half of the album. Bell tones add much needed atmosphere to the song, making for a pleasurable listen. The start/stop drum programming and splashy cymbal crashes in this track can be found throughout the entire album. "Disturbance," with its rumbling bassline and juxtaposed funk sample, gives the album some necessary movement. However, at seven minutes long, it tends to become slightly repetitive and boring. Riow’s short, growling sample add-ons don’t do much to help the situation, either. The album shifts for the better when "Gold" begins, one of the few beats here that truly creates a mood rather than just a showcase of Riow’s chopping ability. With subtle keys and an R&B lick standing alongside a slow drum break, the elements work to build a completely chilled vibe -- perfect to nod your head to rather than nod off to.

The triumphant second half of this album continues with "Flatter," an aggressive, up-tempo piece laced with swirling horns that break the monotony, catapulting the track to greatness. The rest of the album is equally impressive. With different sample choices that allow the listener to easily distinguish one track from the next, these last five offerings really make the album more exciting and varied.

Still, Riow Arai suffers in his song arrangements and overall compositions. A better focus on song build-up and climax could've possibly made Mind Edit a much more endearing album. Despite this flaw, he seems to have the skills necessary to grab his audience’s attention, as he does with the album’s closing songs, "I Dine At Daybreak" and "Trillion." Riow Arai proves to be very successful when shifting his vibe from harsh and mechanical to calm and smooth, and the mild textures of the album’s last few tracks make for an excellent conclusion to yet another instrumental hip-hop album.

1. Intro
2. Undulation
3. Inter
4. Disturbance
5. Gyrate
6. Hyp
7. Gold
8. Flatter
9. Break Roads
10. Trillion
11. I Dine At Daybreak