As a turntablist, Cut Chemist—born Lucas MacFadden—is near unbeatable; anyone who’s seen him perform with DJ Shadow or Jurassic 5 can testify to that. But he’s also adaptable, looking equally at home behind rappers or in front of an orchestra—a versatility that permeates Die Cut, MacFadden’s second solo record following 2006’s The Audience’s Listening. But where Listening’s “The Garden” and “What’s the Altitude” were tuneful standouts amidst showy, borderline comic scratch sessions, Die Cut tilts the balance towards sustained moods of the variety Shadow used to deliver.
That revised approach yields several gems, including the Portishead-like “Home Away from Home,” which sets Laura Darlington’s angelic vocal against terse rock instrumentation. The dreamy “Rhythm Method” plays like a kind of hypnosis until Myka 9 comes in with a few deft verses in the song’s closing moments. The amiable, loose-footed “Moonlightin’ With Biz” is everything you’d expect of a short, sweet Biz Markie cameo. And on “I Gotta Weapon,” MacFadden delivers a furious, old-school hip-hop groove that has the potential to become a city-stomping monster when he sets it free onstage.