Bumblebeez 81, The Printz (Modular/Geffen)
Ten years ago Christopher Colunna would have been a rich man. His one-man, recorded-on-a-computer band, Bumblebeez 81 is mostly an exercise in sonic collage. You can just hear the critics hyphenating all the genres he plays with. If it weren’t for Beck, Beastie Boys, Aphex Twin and the entire IDM genre, Bumblebeez 81 might have had a chance of sticking out.
Chris, though, never lands in one place long enough to make an impression. His sister, rapper Vila, who guests on several tracks does. On “Microphone Diseases” she steals the show with her husky voice and easy flow. In it, Chris relaxes his dense, fuzzy production and relies on a good beat and tasteful sounds.
On “Pony Ride,” Chris does a great job of mashing electronics and acoustics but ultimately comes off as a lesser Beck. On “Let’s Go,” he’s just shrill and sounds like those early Pavement singles when they couldn’t play and were fascinated by their ability to string words together into lyrics.
“Brooklyn” probably owes the Beasties royalties. It’s kind of fun — or it would be if it was one of your friends performing it at a house party. But since Chris won’t choose a sound as his own in this hodge-podge, we’ll never get close enough to him to like it that much.
Vila rescues things again on “Vila Attack” and “Rappa” — proving that Chris has more talent as a producer than performer. With Vila as the center of attention, the sound is no longer the short-attention-span musical cut-and-paste experiment, but a fuzzy, off-kilter urban soundtrack for her raw rhymes.
The story goes that Vila and Bumblebeez were meant to be separate projects. Maybe soon they’ll work on a Vila full-length. The world needs a grungy female rapper who is neither kitsch, self-parody or playa.