In 1991, the MC born Daniel Dumile was known as Zev Love X and was a member — along with his brother Subroc — of the seminal rap group KMD, whose first album, Mr. Hood, was revered as an odd but gleeful pastiche of Afro-bohemian noise snatched from the nervously aging hits of yesteryear. But by 2002, Dumile had adopted the moniker MF Doom, resurfaced as a schizophrenic solo act (due to Subroc's untimely death in 1993), and put out an album of instrumentals entitled Special Herbs V. 1&2, which today seems as musically gratifying as any song on his former group's debut.
Emboldened by a scratchy minimalist break borrowed from Boogie Down Productions '"Poetry," the album's opener "Saffron" comes on like the hazy sonic equivalent of a blue-lit lava lamp, and the track's warm-blooded chord progressions provide an emotive ambience that would otherwise be found in the MC's voice. Also of note is the Bobbito-produced "Monosodium Glutamate," whose Moog-y nocturnal soundscape could pass as either a Midnight Marauders interlude or mood music for Martians. But ultimately, it's "Zatar," with its off-color Anita Baker loop, that's most evocative of MF Doom's disturbed psyche, thus rendering this record as formidable as one Zev Love X's from a long, long decade ago.