- Poland's Catz 'N Dogz may not be part of the immediate San Francisco-based Dirtybird family, but Claude VonStroke's A&Ring was spot-on when he snapped them up to record for the label. The duo's sound is only characterized on Escape from Zoo by its refusal to be characterized. Formerly known for minimal and tech house under the 3 Channels name, Escape from Zoo is pretty much anything but, reflecting the open-minded nature of both the artist and label.
Much like other releases on Dirtybird/Mothership, this means that we're in for a mixed bag along the way. While the production is predictably top-notch throughout, the ideas aren't always equal. "Only for the Moment" shows that the duo can pull off Scuba-esque melodic dubstep with ease, while the Claude VonStroke feature spot "Far Away" sees them mixing a fat-bottomed Mothership stomp with simple old-school drum programming to ecstatic effect. But while "I'm The One Who's Crazy" may sound like the gloriously stupid type of thing we've come to expect from Dirtybird (Lil Jon "OK!" and "Yeah!" included), it doesn't quite have quite the WTF appeal or mammoth drop of Justin Martin & Ardalan's "Mr. Spock." The same goes for "Pets Gone Wild," which marches in place for a too-long four-and-a-half minutes.
You'd think that the Polish duo, residing on the label, might have these tracks down pat, but it's in the genre workouts that they often find their greatest success. The two collaborations with Jazzanova vocalist Paul Randolph prove that they could just as easily find a place on the dearly departed Sonar Kollektiv. "Warsaw by Night"'s pizzicato strings somehow fit neatly into a deeply funky bassline and disorienting vocal samples.
The big issue, though, is that it's hard to find Catz 'N Dogz in all of this. In listening to Claude VonStroke's recent full-length, each track burst forth with the sort of grin that the DJ/producer can't help wear at every gig. What is most compelling about Escape from Zoo is how adept they are in the studio at a number of different sounds. One wonders what would happen if they had decided to pick one, and mined it throughout in all its permutations. It probably wouldn't have been something for Mothership. But it might've been much better.
02. Warsaw by Night
03. Only For The Moment
04. Relaxation is a Skill
05. Far Away feat. Claude VonStroke
06. Domek Na Prerii
07. I'm Free feat. Paul Randolph
08. I'm The One Who's Crazy
09. Pets Gone Wild
10. Poranek Organek feat. dOP
11. Everything is Sexual
12. Long Way feat. Nicholas Ryan Gant
13. I'm Free Anthem feat. Paul Randolph