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Alias & Ehren 

Lillian

Wednesday, Aug 31 2005
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Lillian is like a halfway house for geeky high school band instruments. Beat-maker Alias (Brendon Whitney) and his brother, multi-instrumentalist Ehren, rehabilitate the wind section, remaking timbres that haven't had much pop-cultural cachet since the big-band era into hip, upstanding citizens of the weird, loosely defined world of hip hop governed by the East Bay's Anticon collective. "Eman Ruosis Iht" eases you into the duo's mission with low-key pleasantries like an ambient flute, a familiar, fuzzed-out beat, and these simple, wholesome melodies that pervade the entire album. On "Back and Forth," however, the brothers institute a plan of action. The mature, bookish tones of the clarinet are put to work with sprightly, tripping beats and blips. Then a souped-up, hot-shit soprano sax (yes, that's soprano saxophone, ripped with reedy squeals right out of the dastardly hands of bad influences like Kenny G) spins the whole track dizzy, wailing like a cross between a cock-rockin' guitarist and a whirling dervish. By "52nd and West" a flute has learned to use its scales for more socially acceptable purposes. With a benevolent, knowing touch, sponsors Alias and Ehren gently guide their wards into their new lives as functioning members of ambient, beat-driven hip hop.

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Rachel Devitt

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