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Custom - Fast Print E-mail
Tuesday, 19 March 2002

format: CD
label: Artist Direct Records
release year: 2002
performance: 6
sound 5
reviewed by: Dan MacIntosh

ImageIf you need definitive proof that the color and cultural lines in music are falling faster than the Berlin Wall crumbled, just take a close listen to Custom. Custom is a kind of one man band – and a tall one, at 6-foot-8 -- and "Fast" is one soaked-sponge of widely varying contemporary musical elements. With it, he has artistically dialed into rap, off-center alternative rock and white boy rap, and all the while Custom-ized these diverse ingredients into his own peculiar goulash musical approach.

Listening to Fast is like a fast and furious game of spot the genre references. "Beat Me" is an acoustic rock/semi-rap song, with a woo-hoo Blur-like chorus. "Hey Mister" sports an alternating quiet-to-loud pop-rocker pattern -- in the Smash Mouth mold --with the added benefit of a mocking kids’ choir chorus. "Streets" is an angry nu-metal offering, while on "Mess," Custom lets out a vulnerable admission of regrets from a troubled soul. Custom’s vocal on this track invitingly borders on Eel and Beck’s weary slacker territory. "Daddy" layers acoustic guitars with a Black gospel-influenced choir, and on the closer, "120," Custom’s gruff singing sounds just like that unsteady trooper from The Pogues, Shane McGowan.

In more than a few places, such as on "Morning Spunk," Custom can be about as potty-mouthed as your typical gangsta rapper. Even though this track also leans toward Smash Mouth’s pop-rock spunk, don’t ever expect to hear it on the sequel to "Shrek." In addition to his propensity to curse, Custom also expresses anger toward the fairer sex in a few places here, which probably won’t endear him to the NOW contingent.

For the most part, Custom’s music matches the loudness levels of his New York City home. But he also has a sparingly used quiet side, which can be heard on the song "May." This is a dreamy musical moment, enhanced by subdued drums and lightly sprinkled keyboards, supporting Custom’s world-weary, resigned vocals.

Sound-wise, Custom goes for spontaneity over measured accuracy here. The playing and production is inspired, but it rarely sounds labored. One gets the impression that Custom’s primary goal this time out was to get his musical ideas on tape while they were still fresh in his mind. It doesn’t sound as if he plotted out each and every stylistic twist and turn; he just used whatever seemed to fit the mood best at any particular moment.

If you want to customize anything, you should never reach for pre-packaged ingredients. This is why Fast by Custom has such an inviting everything-but-the kitchen-sink feel to it, which will result in many satisfied Custom-ers.

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