photo from MySpace
review by Ben Guerechit
A while back, four months maybe, I came across a strange and intriguing remix album while perusing the wide world of webs. No telling how it made its way to my hard drive at this point, but the album had all these Radiohead tunes featuring some of hip-hopâ€™s greatest lyricists: MF Doom, Jungle Brothers, De La Soul, Ghostface, and most of the tracks had the name “Panzah Zandahz” plastered on the title.
I listened to it a few times and thoroughly enjoyed the mixes, especially the one by the Jungle Brothers, â€œHow You Want Itâ€ vs. â€œPunchup at a Wedding.â€ At the same time Girl Talk had been creeping his way into my playlists as well. The mash up concept is in no way new and has been around since well before Danger Mouseâ€™s Grey Album or Phoenixâ€™s finest, DJ Z-Trip. It just happened to be my time and place to learn about the art of the mash-up.
It wasnâ€™t until just this week that I gave the remix album, Me & This Army, my full attention. Itâ€™s more than a remix or mash-up album or both. Itâ€™s a shining example of a hip-hop rarity: a beat juggling trifecta and it turns out the guy with the weird name is the mastermind behind it all. Panzah Zandahz (aka Drew McIntyre) had created re-workings of Radiohead masterpieces, which not only nodded to Yorke and company, but gave the songs a fresh and imaginative spin. Enclosed in Army are precise breaks, clever mash-ups and inventive covers.
The album prompted me to do a little research on the fellow. Turns out Panzah Zandahz is a Northwest neighbor. This now-Portlander (a New Hampshire native) is also more prolific than his Radiohead reshaping hints at. PZ, as heâ€™s known to hip-hop heads, created an outlet for distribution of his music and other crate-digging sample junkies of the same vein. Token Recluse Records (formerly Zero Skillz Recordings in 2000) was founded by PZ as a mode of transportation for his sample compilations and break records. The first 12″ release was actually the preview to Me & This Army -- Radiohead Beats & Breaks was exactly what the title describes and according to the Token Recluse website â€œwas part one in a three part break record series. That’s Radiohead, Beck, & Bjork.â€
The second release, Butterfunk Concoction, a full length CD released in 2006, is a combination of a rare late 60â€™s funk/soul mix with four original tracks of the same nature. This was PZâ€™s first dive into the sole creation pool and he found it to be deep and wide.
Maybe out of fear or maybe out of need to keep promises, the next release came in the form of the foretold Beck break 12â€. In an interview with New York alternative weekly Metroland, PZ stated, â€œSometimes I find that sample comp is too confining, but I think it might be that my skills within sample comp are what’s confining. Nothing’s wrong with the art, it’s just me, haha.â€
He also began to use his capacities in a supportive role at Token Recluse by helping promote label mate Unconventional Science with two releases in late 2004. More recently, in the past year heâ€™s produced some releases for spoken word artist Brad Hamers, as well as teaming up on collaborative effort with Hamers under the name Two Ton Sloth.
Not only is Panzah a productive man, but heâ€™s a productive man with a humble disposition and expanding potential. In an interview for Rapnews.uk, he said, â€œthereâ€™s the music that I want to create, but I canâ€™t quite put my finger on it. I stress out too much about it. I feel like thereâ€™s this par I canâ€™t quite reach.â€
When asked about falling into the ranks of folks like DJ Shadow and Cut Chemist, PZ thinks his music â€œcould easily fall in to the same category as them, but I’ve got a lot I’ve yet to make that doesn’t match up.â€ He plays several instruments and has arranged strings to be recorded and then used for sampling.
The budding musical spirit that is constantly awaking in Drew McIntyre can also be heard on the most recent releases from â€™07. Earlier in the year, he put out Elsie Frappe, a mix collection of rare psychedelic grooves that has been referred to as â€œbrain-melting crate-mining good-ness.â€ Also, out just last week (11/11/07) is the Aphids on Lettuce CD, mashing Beck into creamy potatoes.
According to the release list at Token Recluse, PZ has plans for a Bjork breaks and beats 12â€ and a full-length yet-to-be titled LP in 2008. Whatever it is that fuels his musical engine, PZâ€™s flame is burning white-hot in Portland.
Iâ€™ll leave you with a quote from the Rapnews.uk interview that I believe sums up the psyche and musical optimism contained in the brain of Panzah Zandahaz:
Check out some Panzah Zandahz MP3â€™s found on the Token Recluse website:
Ghostface â€“ Daytona 500 Radiohead Remix - MP3
Sunset on Velvet - MP3