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Money Mark

Our critics' picks in new releases

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Taking things apart is one of the keys to Mark Ramos-Nishita's creative process. The L.A.-raised keys master received his first keyboard, a Fender Rhodes, as a teen and immediately set about dissecting it, much to his parent's chagrin. But it was only a few years later that he got a call--one that would change his life forever--to repair the gate to a hip old L.A. home, a home belonging to the Beastie Boys. In time, Mark would become the fifth Beastie (producer Mario Caldato Jr. being the fourth), providing the band with the organic organ grooves that would take them from hyped-up rappers to jazzbos. Ramos-Nishita released two delicious discs on London's Mo' Wax label (the garage joint Mark's Keyboard Repair and the ebullient Push The Button) and has hit his stride with his latest disc, Change Is Coming.

Twelve tracks--all instrumentals--populate Mark's latest effort, and they're just begging for a cool movie to use them for its score. The opener, "Chocochip," is one quirky groover, utilizing tons of unusual effects that tweak and twist the sound. "Glitch In 'Da System" is a classic chase number, one that would compliment any on-screen spy hunt, and "Another Day to Say I Love You" finds Mark leaning on his Hispanic roots, expressing his emotion with taut percussion and a homemade version of the Latin string instrument, the treis. "Soul Drive Six Avenue" is straight-up pimp music, with guest star Ulises Bella honkin' out the baritone sax like he was scoring Car Wash 2001.

Consider Money Mark the love child of Bob Moog, Jimmy Smith, Perez Prado and Esquivel, and don't worry if he takes your stuff apart. He knows how to put it all back together.

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