By Alex P80 Parks
“I really want the tape to play like a guided tour through the Soviet Union”- DJ Manipulator
Just in time for the frigid weather, Manipulator drops his cold-war concept instrumental project, The Soviet Tape. The Massachusetts-based producer and resident in-house DJ for Boston’s Nightworks drops his latest beat tape, bringing together Russian sound bytes, unique samples, and plenty of sick scratching over 14 tracks. The Soviet Tape shows off Manipulator’s skills as loop digger, melody composer, beat creator and DJ on every joint. Manip provides plenty of dope slices and scratches on every track, showcasing his precision on the 1’s and 2’s in addition to his prolific beat arrangements.
Layers of guitar riffs, synths and subtle effects ooze over the multiple percussion elements, often sparking catchy melodies and evoking a playful mood at times. Never afraid to take the risk sonically, Manipulator incorporates a wide array of genres, only adding to the texture of his beats.
“Kalinka” sets it off with traditional Russian strings loops, drums and handclaps with visions of Russian natives dancing the Kazatsky or the Kalinka, both traditional Russian dances. The grand nature of “The City” plays large with piano and organ loops, chopped vocal snippets and plenty of low end thump to rattle the ground all the way from Kazan to the frozen tundra. Place your bets on “Durak” (a common Russian card game) as Manipulator brings GZA and Party Arty vocal scratches over a rumbling, menacing piano loop. Take another risk with “Russian Roulette” and it’s carnival/bazaar vibe, as Manip flexes some skills on the cross fader as the sounds move from ear to ear. The fictional Russian antagonist from Rocky IV, “Ivan Drago,” appears in the form of 1,2 jabs on the snares and gut punches from the bass. Manipulator blacks out on “Moscow Mule” with insane scratching and some crazy percussion with a haunting vocal loop hovering over it all. “Boris Godunov” brings the opera with echoing female vocals, Soviet melodies and booming drums throughout. “Groza” storms in with its prominent bass groove delivering a head-nodding clinic full of crisp drums and subtle melodic layers. Setting the tone with a creepy choral sample, “Transylvania” packs the eerie effects to close out the spooky holiday season. “St. Petersburg” provides the opulence and regal vibes courtesy of wind chimes, upbeat synths and some clean drums mirroring the lavish castles in the former Russian Czar’s home city. The guitar notes and gorgeous chopped vocal loops on “Bolshoi Russian Suplex” with a few aptly placed Zangief sound bytes provide one of the standout beats on the tape full of top-notch tracks. “Konets” (appropriately translating to “ending” in Russian) wraps up the instrumental album with slick, short guitar riffs over wobbling synths and ticking percussion, the vocal loops echoing in the distance.
The Soviet Tape certainly plays like a journey through 80’s era Cold War Russia, covering traditional ideas and customs but also adding some pop culture references as well. A refreshing and enjoyable 26 min that spans from Siberia to Moscow, Manipulator captures the essence and spirit of the era, injecting a thunderous beat and hip hop spirit into each sample and sound byte.
Preorder the tape now here: