Fandam Plus (Instrumentals, Remixes, Lyrics & Video)
Much as his work with Cannibal Ox proved before, El-P is truly one of music's most innovative, idiosyncratic producers, fusing the blunt crudeness of early-'80s hip-hop with the futuristic sweep and experimentation of progressive pioneers like Brian Eno and Can. Fandam Plus, a two-disc set that compiles instrumentals from his solo debut, Fantastic Damage, as well as remixes, demonstrates El-P's truly unusual talents. The instrumentals are especially powerful. Stripped of their vocals, they reveal new dimensions to what were previously only backing tracks. "Deep Space 9mm" and "Truancy" sound truly creepy and unnerving here, while "Dead Disnee" becomes even funnier with only the chirpy chorus vocals left. The second disc, which contains some remixes and enhanced content, is not quite as interesting. The remixes are enjoyable enough, but don't really add to or radically alter the music, so they really only prove how impressive El-P's original work was to begin with. (The second disc also contains enhanced content, mainly videos and lyrics.) It may seem strange to consider an instrumental hip-hop album as essential listening, but Fandam Plus is so experimental and inventive that it should appeal to more than just El-P fans.