As the first proper solo album from Madlib, Sound Ancestors was sure to be special. It more than rises to the occasion. The album is taken from hundreds of loops and beats recorded over the years during Madlib’s studio sessions. These bit were in turn arranged, edited, manipulated and mastered into a cohesive whole by Kieren Hebden (aka Four Tet). The result puts Madlib’s immense talent as a producer on full display. Sound Ancestors is a signature album of iconoclastic beats in a variety of styles and tempos. Psychedelic, sample-fueled numbers like “Chino” and “Road Of The Lonely Ones” highlight Madlib’s prolific knack for finding the perfect loop, while off-kilter rhythms of “Dirtknock” and “The New Normal” bring to mind his Quasimodo and Madvillainy era work.
Madlib is clearly the album’s focal point, but Hebden’s ability as an arranger also deserves applause. Similarly to Hebden’s always-stellar DJ sets as Four Tet, the album’s pace and flow is impeccable. In the end, Sound Ancestors is a real triumph, sure to grace many year end best of lists.