Since releasing his self-titled debut back in 2004 on Scott Herren's Eastern Developments label, Eliot Lipp has kept up a prolific pace of nearly an album per year plus a steady stream of remixes. At this point, he's been cranking out his electro-funk infused brand of instrumental hip-hop for almost five years, and his latest album shows a definite progression and refinement in his style.
His beat production has gotten much better, and The Outside showcases both crackling, clean lines and chunky beats that keep time behind big layers of analogue synth work and filtered-out samples that help enhance the vibe. Having said the above, if you've been listening to instrumental hip-hop at all over the course of the past five years, you've probably heard stuff similar to this. In places (like the lumbering "Opening Ceremony" and entirely too-long "7 Mile Tunnel"), Lipp treads similar territory as artists like Prefuse73, Merck label fellows, and others, but in other instances he zips off into exciting directions.
In places, The Outside has a breezy, sort of So-Cal vibe that permeates the music and really takes it someplace brighter than a lot of the music being created in the genre. "The Area" mixes a looping guitar twang and some nice piano work with shimmery synths and sharp beats for something sunny and warm, while "Beyond The City" mingles a sub-rattling 4/4 beat and some lush arpeggios into a gorgeous electro track that's the aural equivalent of driving far too fast down a long tunnel at night. "The Meaning" plays out like the sequel of that track, again taking a more straightforward beat, but this time laying some dense, psychedelic synths and a driving bass over the top to make a slightly more organic piece that works in much more subtle ways than some of the other pieces on the twelve track, forty-five minute album. While not groundbreaking, there's some sun-baked instrumental goodness on here that's perfect for summer bumping.