Big Dada – 2001 – 74 minutes

Yes, it is a lower case 'c' followed by all block capitals. Yes their names are really Dose One, Why? and Odd Nosdam and yes they are purveyors of one of the most eclectic brands of hip-hop to be packaged and put out under the one banner in recent times. These boys are based in California's Bay-Area, also home to the Anticon collective, of which they are also members. All three members worked together in various outfits before coming together to form the typographically unusual cLOUDDEAD.

This collection of low-fi hip-hop and abstract flavours is a musical chameleon flitting from one style to another. Just when you think you know what they're at, they shift gears and plough headlong into another catalogue of influences. To say it's hard to describe or categorise is understating the depth and range of cLOUDDEAD; it owes as much to hip-hop as it does to UK experimental electronica. Shades of different vocals bring to mind everyone from They Might Be Giants to The Dead Kennedys in one breath to Tortoise and Slint in another.

The album contains twelve tracks, grouped together in pairs by name with only (1) and (2) after each version to differentiate it. The backroom claustrophobia of 'And All You Can Do Is Laugh (1)' filters into the airy atmospherics of 'AAYCDIL' (2). 'Apt A (1)' sounds like a space-age lunar anthem.

If the words 'hip' and 'hop' threaded together fill you with dread, or you've sworn off the genre for reasons of lyrical ineptness, you may be forced to revise your opinion after hearing this album. It's unique cadence and understated broodiness is effortlessly beautiful and darkly evocative. Veering between experimental, post-rock hip-hop and limpid abstract beats, there are constant surprises in here. American prairie landscape music mutates into the ruminations of urban hip-hop to create a unique sound (and a cool name).

Sinéad Gleeson

Tracklisting: Apt. A (1) - Apt. A (2) – And all you can do is Laugh (1) - And all you can do is Laugh (2) – I promise never to get paint on my glasses again (1) - I promise never to get paint on my glasses again (2) – Jimmy Breeze (1) - Jimmy Breeze (2) – (cloud dead number five) (1) - (cloud dead number five) (2) Bike (1) – Bike (2)