Kid606's iconoclasm started with "Straight Outta Compton," a bootlegged single that made a mess of the N.W.A song. His remix turned the track inside-out, smearing beats into fractal trails and chopping deus ex machina vocal bits into murky cries that ceded none of the gangsta rappers' forthright swagger. Since then, the Bay Area laptop artist has teetered atop a raucous computer-music scene that seemed to outrun his influence. His forays into the pop-minded mash-up movement proved forced and awkward, and his tributes to jungle's golden age sounded more rooted in the past than in the present he'd filled with new tension.
So Who Still Kill Sound? comes as a surprise. Working as a sequel to last year's merely serviceable Kill Sound Before Sound Kills You, the new album sounds recharged and gleefully manic. "Yr Inside The Smallest Rave On Earth" and "Slammin' Ragga Bootleg Track" traffic in the vertiginous rush of jungle spinning off its axis. Beats speed by and basslines blare, but they also make room for amply musical breakdowns—clipped vocal chants good for the jump-rope team, chiming spells of reggae warmth—that round out the assault. In "Phat With A PhD," an MC barks a call-and-response order ("Fly with me… do the dirty bird!") over a frantic beat that flaps in kind. In "Live Acid Jam," Kid606 takes a relaxed run through all his sonic tricks, clicking and dragging commands over bits that sound like data dancing.
The album is a jumble of tracks thrown together in no apparent order, but its scattershot design does well by Kid606's working method. The sludgy spread of "Robitussin Motherfucker (DJ Screw RIP)" seems like an anomaly for such a speed-stoked artist, but Who Still Kill Sound? reasserts Kid606 as a standout who tweaks even while he sleeps.