Thru is the second album from experimental hip-hop/electronic music producer Thavius Beck, and it continues the dark, industrial driven sounds that he opened with on his debut Deconstruction. On the release, he teams up with Saul Williams, singer Mia Doi Todd, as well as 2Mex and Nocando and keeps things dirty and dense, piling heavy synth layers and thick samples on top of juicy beats for another solid effort.
In some ways, Thru reminds me just a slight bit of Jel's Soft Money that came out a little earlier this year. Both discs are about half instrumental and half vocal, and while they both have roots in hip hop, they're by no means limited to that genre as they break out in all directions. After a short opening track, ""He's Back" wastes no time in getting the pulse racing as chopped-up breakbeats race frantically over some subdued analogue layers and relentless, huge stabs of throbbing chords. "Reaching" finds Beck on vocals himself, and the track is full of stuttering, juicy samples and a chopped-up curling guitar lick that make the track seem a little less oppressive.
All of the tracks that feature guest emcees are solid, and despite the always-great wordplay of Saul Williams, the best collaborative track may very well be "'98" with Nocando. Moving in the opposite direction as most of the tracks on the disc, Beck largely strips back the heavier samples and opens things up with a couple nice overlapping piano loops and while the lyrical flow seems a bit aggressive, the uplifting lyrics push the song into unique territory. On the cinematic "Down," Doi Todd's vocals mostly get turned into breathy clouds that float over the already cinematic piece, and while it's fairly pretty, the short track doesn't really go much of anywhere.
Some of Beck's best tracks are where he gets downright cinematic. "The Storm Before The Calm" is all swooping orchestral samples and gritty low-end rhythms that eventually culminate in a massive crescendo while the aptly titled "Perpetual Pursuit" is a shorter track full of creepy analogue synth, funky slap bass and beats that always sound like they're on the verge of rushing off into the distance (but never quite do). "Paranoia" sounds like it was custom-made for soundtracks as well, weaving frantic beats around droning, modulated synths that evoke the title perfectly. There are a few places where the album spins its wheels a bit (namely the shorter "Yet And Still" and the aforementioned "Down"), but otherwise Thru is a nice collection of crunchy tracks that should have you nodding your head.