El-P’s production often busies itself as much with melody as with harsh percussion and enveloping shadows, but on the instrumental Weareallgoingtoburninhellmegamixx3, he relishes the chance to loosen up. The synth whirligigs that often bolster El-P’s work become leads on “Whores: The Movie,” playing off a menacingly syncopated hook with a variety of harmonies, rapid frills, and siren-like stretches. Amid a lot of ill-tempered bangers (“Meanstreak (In 3 Parts),” “Eat My Garbage 2”), El rides several healthy mood swings. “Time Won’t Tell” pits tenderness against grimy fallout, much as “Habeas Corpses (Draconian Love)” did on 2007’s I’ll Sleep When You’re Dead. Electronic music may never peg-leg itself closer to Tom Waits than on “Drunk With A Loaded Pistol,” thanks to its synth-horns and grisly slink of a beat.
Instead of aiming for the density that El-P’s verses and beats create together, these tracks use open space to their advantage. “Jump Fence, Run, Live” takes its time filling out an aptly triumphal hook, and “Secret Police Man’s Ball” lets piles of synth glide over jabs from what sounds like a surf-rock guitar. Since El-P decided earlier this year to step down from heading the Definitive Jux label and focus more on his own music, it’s great to know he’s proceeding with his desolate signature and his sense of possibility both intact.