Dr. Yen Lo (Ka & Preservation) – ‘Days With Dr. Yen Lo’ LP [Pavlov Institute Records]

Stoked to be welcoming back experimental hip-hop to our ears, with an amazing record that we’ve been visiting and revisiting for the last week, Days With Dr. Yen Lo. Dr. Yen Lo is now not only the psychopathic hypnotist from The Manchurian Candidate but also the collaborative name of Brooklyn rapper Ka and New York native producer Preservation, who’ve just dropped this full length on CD and LP.

For all the big names that have gone over his beats, Preservation remains an incredibly underrates producer and DJ. As far as we’re saware he’s still pumping the ASR-10, MPC 60 and the SP-1200 alongside live instruments and analogue recording gear.

The production work on this album shows just how much skill this guy has to produce anything, with single instrument loops and not drum machines leading the way. Still quirky enough to sound fresh and still chopped enough to nod your head too. But no neck-snapping; just a stark and eerie cinematic vibe for Ka’s lyricism.

The wordplay and verse crafting here is phenomenal. Drawn from the same pool of Doom, Edan and Guru, Ka weights every word, with rhymes denser than most and lines that only take on their proper meaning on fifth or sixth listen. And it’s almost every line, no bullshit filler.

Excerpts from the Dr. Yen Lo character of the movies (played by Khigh Dhiegh in the 1962 film) break-up the album, and set the tone for Ka’s words on each track, making Days With… one of the best concept albums we’ve ever heard. His technique on the mic makes it sound effortless too, the whole way through. He even delivers lines with the same self-examining emotion as Slug rapping about relationships. Shit is real.

Ka’s been doing this for time, though he really came back in to view as a solo artist on GZA’s Pro Tools in 2008. Sometime in the decades he’s dedicated to mastering rap he must have made the decision to go introspective, deeper in to his own flow and rhyme writing style instead of chasing hype. And it really shines through on this album.

This is essential listening, especially for those that’ve been wondering what happened to alternative hip-hop. It’s alive and well, but the backpackers went to sleep went the marketing dollars started flooding the internet, so it’s just a tad bit harder to find.

In an interesting move the two artists have split sales responsibilities by format, with the CD of this album available to order from Ka’s online home here http://brownsvilleka.com/days-with-dr.-yen-lo-cd; with the vinyl edition available through Preservation’s Mondieu Music label over here http://www.mondieumusic.com/store.html

In the lead up to the album’s release there’s been a few videos dropping via Ka’s youtube channel. Check them out below, with the trailer at the top before getting in to the track videos.