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He makes music you can almost see

June 07, 2007|Jeff Weiss

With DJ Shadow focused on making hyphy records and RJD2 abandoning hip-hop altogether, it's been a tough last couple of years for fans of hip-hop instrumentalism. That is, until Parisian turntablist Wax Tailor dropped his sophomore album, "Hope and Sorrow," in April, a record cinematic in its scope and imagery and yet unabashedly grounded in sample-based hip-hop production techniques, mixing darting breakbeats with wispy flutes, funereal brass and haunted-house strings.

With Shadow, RJD2 and Bristol trip-hop as jumping-off points, "Hope and Sorrow" is a sonic evolution from Tailor's less vocally oriented debut, "Tales of Forgotten Melodies." Reuniting with past collaborators like the silky-voiced songstresses Sharon Jones and Charlotte Savary, the album also finds Tailor pairing up with spoken-word star and Roots collaborator Ursula Rucker, not to mention underground MCs such as the Others and Voice.

Despite being often mislabeled as electronica, Tailor views himself as a hip-hop director of sorts, choosing album guests as if from a casting call. "I think I have a special vision of hip-hop," Tailor said. "My music is completely inspired by all genres, but I can't even think about music without returning to the hip-hop foundations of the artists I grew up listening to: Kool G Rap, Rakim and Public Enemy."

As for his stage show, Tailor has elaborate plans for his first headlining appearance in Los Angeles, enlisting Savary for vocals, Marina Quaisse on cello and Marine Thibault on flute, to accompany his turntablism. Additionally, video clips will help accentuate the thrust of Tailor's cinematic soundscape. "It's about the idea of using the videos and the songs to tell a story," Tailor says.

Wax Tailor, the Echo, 1822 Sunset Blvd., L.A. 9 p.m. Saturday. $8. (213) 413-8300; www.attheecho.com.

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