The Mix-Up is Beastie Boys' first-ever full album of all-new instrumental material. The follow-up to 2004's To The 5 Boroughs, The Mix-Up features Diamond, Horovitz and Yauch back on drums, guitar and bass, with able assistance from Keyboard Money Mark and percussionist Alfredo Ortiz, on 12 brand new wordless, sample-less, scratchless originals. Sure to please fans of the instrumental cuts from Check Your Head and Ill Communication and the cult hit compilation album made up largely of those tracks, The In Sound From Way Out!, The Mix-Up finds NYC's favorite sons drawing on one of their arsenal's primary strengths and pushing it into bold new directions.
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Having long since shed their image as hip-hop's clown princes, the Beastie Boys now bring what feels like their emeritus recording, a celebratory instrumental memoir of all of the influences (except punk) that brought them to their secure place among hip-hop's fickle elite. The party opens with the aptly titled "B for My Name," its plodding bounce staking claim to the mid-tempo path the album treads almost throughout. "14th St. Break" picks up the pace, especially in the auxiliary percussion breakdown, complete with rally whistle. Then, beginning with "Suco de Tangerina," the album drops into a deep groove cut from dub- and dancehall-tinged ostinati that carry through a full third of its tracks. Among these, "The Gala Event" suffers from a lack of developmental motion that characterizes many of these tracks, but highlights still abound. "Off the Grid," for example, departs from the otherwise unbreakable chill and rips the proceedings wide open, blooming again and again in a series of pulsing riffs that celebrate the very institution of the instrumental groove. More than 20 years since Licensed to Ill took a long, irreverent piss into the mainstream, it seems you can still fight for your right to party. --Jason Kirk