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Kid Beyond 

Amplivate

Wednesday, Jul 12 2006
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When I was 11 years old, quarantined at home with chicken pox, I learned a simple, important lesson: Watching Fourth of July fireworks on TV isn't nearly as ooh-ahh-inspiring as getting the full effect in person. Kid Beyond's Amplivate suffers from a similar realization. The S.F.-based beatbox maniac, who for years has completely baffled and totally rocked audiences with his unique vocal pyrotechnics, is a strictly live phenomenon. Witnessing the Popeye-esque Buddhist virtually swallow a mike while looping his mouth percussion, creating layers of stuttering rhythms and space-shot melodies, is truly astounding. Hearing those same sounds on CD, not so much. KB's cover of Portishead's "Wandering Star" is good here, but lacks the WTF astonishment it evokes as a staple of his live show. "Mothership" is a frantic, drum 'n' bass/dancehall barnburner, and it's nearly impossible to believe all its overdubs and polyrhythms aren't post-production studio tricks. The fact that they're not — it's all Beyond and his samplers — seems less relevant once they're recorded. Four remixes by local DJs (two of "Wandering Star") offer more musical muscle, and are maybe a better way to take KB in a domestic setting. If anything, Amplivate serves as great promo for Kid Beyond's live set, something you really do have to see to believe. — Jonathan Zwickel

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Jonathan Zwickel

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