Rob Swift’s approach to DJing is soulful yet intellectual. Sure, he’s technically skillful and he could easily bang out some beats and go on a scratch rampage, but he doesn’t seem content in doing just that...never has. His approach is more likened to a philosophical mad scientist whose brain is pre-programmed to think in musical compositions.
"The Architect" is perhaps his boldest and most challenging work to date, particularly in support of that above theory. The backbone of the album is captured in the language of song titles such as “Overture” and a series of “Movements”. Both are terms generally associated with Classical or Opera music. The album opens with “Overture,” which ironically leads into the “Introduction,” both serve the purpose for setting the tone of the album. The title track, “The Architect,” is then used to define the album voyage. Using a series of quick-cut methods (which are used to great effect thru out the album) he breaks down the wording, “What you’re about to hear is a unique concept...of interactive symphonic music…”. That in itself describes what is to follow…
The album’s production is generally very moody and dramatic which helps create a visual aspect, leaving me with the feeling I should be “seeing” something while listening. Meaning many of the songs come off like the scoring of a critical plotline in a movie scene. Also, there are several future primitive moments where classic Hip Hop break beats are fused with outer-wordly sounding precision orchestra based cuts. This is most notable in “Rabia 1st Movement” which flips the “It’s Your Rock” drums (one of the all time great Hip Hop beats) with a barrage of “Phantom of The Opera”-ish organ cuts or “Rabia 2nd Movement” which sounds like “2-3 Break” 2010 meets theme song for a “2001: A Space Odyssey” sequel a.k.a welcome to the future.
From a pure scratch perspective, the “Lower Level” Movements 1 -3 are probably the most intricate songs on the album. He merges his technical skills with a series of production techniques, pans, echoes, and filters, to great effect. In particular, there is a breakdown on Movement 1 with some Chuck D vocals, a “Come Clean” drums hand beat and some sort or orchestra horn scratch that perfectly brings these concepts all together.
“Spartacuts” is probably the song best suited as a single. It’s uptempo, aggressive, boom bap, & abstract all at once. Plus I loved the idea of hearing M.O.P and Primo being cut up, leading into a excellent scratch reworking of a rather dramatic composers work form an Aquaman children’s record (which sounds “suspiciously” like the “The Black Hole” theme song).
Rob’s previous efforts generally lend heavily to collaboration, but for the most part he holds it down on his own here. The album only has one featured vocalist, which is Breez Eva Flowin on “Principio,”. Here, the album’s vibe is maintained with some stripped down but unique production. Meanwhile, Breez focuses on the often forgotten art of paying tribute to the DJ.
Another thing that stood out is that nearly everything he scratches on this album is something that I don’t recall ever hearing cut before (with the exception of the “1-2-3” from “Flash To The Beat Live”). Also, many of the tracks are short but focused and have a big sound. I found myself continually thinking of the possibilities of a complete Scratch DJ movie score. When it’s all said and done, you’ve been on an intense and engaging journey, wondering and intrigued of where Rob Swift will take you next time…
Written By Kevin Beacham a.k.a DJ Nikoless Skratch
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