Ayo Jegede
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May 19, 2004
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Rock Music Reviews
Ming and FS
Subway Series

Japanese television programming is perhaps the most underrated lode of entertainment. shows like Iron Chef and Takeshi's Castle are known for their comical, perverse hyperbole; putting to shame the pangs of annoying demureness common in other entertainment. Japan wholeheartedly believes in freebasing entertainment, allowing for the uninhibited flow of crazies to spread all over the world. but, of course, american eyes, truth-bearers of excess, want to immediately command and control the Japanese style as if it were a simple commodity. the resultant shows are definitely without any flair of originality or hint of elegance. instead the shows become gimmicks, mere shades of a greater light.

but this kind of product aggrandizement doesn't just relate to television. every concept is easily perverted or dulled by a single-mindedness to provide a product. there's nothing i hate more than the ubiquitous 'i <3 NY' clothing line, a slogan that becomes more vapid each time it is donned in public. sure, it makes a great love affair with the state compact and iconic, but it does so by being a cheap splurge as if to say that we're all New York, even if only as a flight of fancy. but states and cities are more than just three words on a shirt, they can't be summarized neither by playful minimalism nor unseemly excess. yet this is what Ming & FS attempt on Subway Series, burying the sound in a blanket that's far too thick and overused.

Ming & FS have been said to make 'Junkyard' Big Beat, a weird sobriquet for musicians who just use a lot of beats. this was true for their 1999 debut Hell's Kitchen and 2001's Human Condition. now Ming + FS are infatuated with New York and they've always tried to present the New York culture using their music as a vehicle without making any of their works sound like excessive encomiums. various quirks like the Hebrew intro on Human Condition or, hell, just the general music to Hell's Kitchen offered layers. that isn't to say that Subway Series doesn't have depth, but it certainly lacks personality inhering in the music, an irredeemable consequence of taking an idea and using it as cover for empty words.

'Steady Shot' is a nice enough intro, with hints of a more erudite orientation than previously before. the song does sound hollow though and doesn't employ nearly as many instruments and tricks as their previous works. 'The Most Dangerous Trip' follows with thick but uneven beats, giving an impression of empty space. 'Jingle Hell' is pretty pointless and it feels as though i'm trudging through BlesteNation's rapping. 'Misdirected,' almost recalling 'Captain Omray's Mumble Box' from Human Condition, is, along with the 'Most Dangerous Trip' reprise, the only buoy in this mundane sea. from there on out it's just an incessant cascade of blah, sometimes dipping further in the goop of boring ('The L') and sometimes offering some rewards (the aforementioned reprise). Subway Series was released a day before the 1st commemoration of 9/11 i'm guessing as a symbolic gesture. i laud them for supporting such a great city but not for their garbled, nondescript presentation of it.

Release date: September 10, 2002
Label: Om
Rating: 4.0 / 10

[RMR]