Sunday, 29 April 2018

Lil Uzi Vert "Luv Is Rage 2" (2017)

 Of all the so called Mumble Rap that's peaking these days, Lil Uzi Vert has been the most interesting to catch my attention, his dazed and confused feature on the Migos song Bad & Boujee and an infectious "all my friends are dead" hook on the Xo Tour Lif3 single has had me put off this record for too long now. It's his debut album, a squeal to a mix tape of the same name and after a few years of building up steam he debuted at the top spot of American billboard charts, going on to turn platinum earlier this year.

Success aside the music is the most interesting aspect of course and Lil Uzi marks his presence as an emotional voice centered in the heart of the aesthetic. Although they call it rap, he blurs the lines, often singing infectiously with a wealth of auto tune and dreamy reverberations to abstruse his words and let the feelings flow as dissonance and "mumbling" often makes for many incoherent sentences that aids it to feeling over clarity. When in the rhymes its often simplistic, overtly repetitive and so ones attention might drift into the chemistry that's beyond the words, however when singing the record really illuminates as a plethora of memorable hooks and singing charms each of the songs.

Despite being trendy and currently "mainstream" these instrumentals come across as esoteric and dystopian, in an oddly warm and inviting way. Images of rain soaked neon light cities come to mind but that is my personal experience. Lil Uzi raps his way through heartbreak and pains on an open, emotionally lead journey that has its moments of braggadocio focused on wealth and lifestyle but mostly offers something rather different from the norm. Around him washy, deep and swooning beats create an airy atmosphere that's constantly lost in its own haze. Its indulgent, relaxing and often memorizing as exotic synths bleed with reverb over tight, contrasting trap grooves.

Each of the songs create a distinction and a few stand out. On the stripped back and gritty For Real, Lil Uzi drops back on his rap skills for a track that feels of a totally different temperament. Early 20 Rager does something similar and the flow is broken up as a couple of tracks pull away from what really works and that is Lil Uzi singing, getting into his zone and lighting up this strange and wonderful place that's emotionally honest and yet feels out of space, like a never ending drug trip.

Favorite Tracks: The Way Life Goes, Feelings Mutual, Malfunction, Xo Tour Life
Rating: 6/10

Tuesday, 24 April 2018

Author & Punisher "Pressure Mine" (2018)

California musician and one man band Tristian Shone caught my attention with his recent documentary on the popular Noisey channel. Hailed as "Industrial Doom Metal" the more intriguing aspect of his music were the live performances, marked by the use of custom built controllers which are normally simple knobs, dials and sliders. In Shones case hes hand built big, weighty metallic contraptions, industrial in nature, that require some sweat and phsicality to manipulate as he pushes and pulls these machine like contraptions to forge the details of sounds formed by the VSTs on his DAW. Unfortunately its not obvious in audio form, his custom controllers are used in the composition and recording of the five tracks on this EP but they make no audible distinction from an expectant range of sounds that grace this short record. I wouldn't call it novelty, in fact I think its a fantastic approach to make the music more physical and involved but that only comes across in the live show. 

Pressure Mine celebrates a lack of comfort, wellness or embrace. Its textural journey travels through sterile dystopian soundscapes into the crevasses caught between darkness and evil. The mechanical grinding and whirls of truly Industrial machinery sound rich and detailed in construct yet spacious and devoid of intent. They mull away, acting as the percussive line while saddened, lost, catatonic melodies drift though, comatose and absent from surroundings. Tristian's voice lays bare and vulnerable in a soft small room reverb. Its cold, icy and distance from the other elements and initially seemed to lack some power. The chemistry makes more sense with repeated listens, as one gets their head around the atmosphere and abstract source of melodic value, his voice really becomes like a light drowning in the lifeless machinery its surrounded by.

The whole record works as a textural treat, the slow punishing drive of Doom Metal guides the rhythm to focus on its mechanics, never drifting into grooves or breaks and going slow enough to let each hit strike with shape and aesthetic. The music has a drone like quality as the pace crawls away steadily, obscure, haunting sounds drifting like echos and forming some notation to stir bleak emotions in this chilling environment. Nine Inch Nails have a a big and obvious impact on the constructs of this sound but its just an influence. Although the ties are strong and clear Tristian takes that inspiration to very interesting places within these five unforgiving songs.

Rating: 6/10

Sunday, 22 April 2018

Drudkh "Їм часто сниться капіж" (2018)

Hailing from deep within the endless forests of eastern Europe, Ukraine Black Metal outfit Drudkh release a full length album named in their mother tongue, translated it reads "They often see dreams about the spring". With five lengthy track of bleak, chromatic droning I got more of a sense of looming death at the hands of mother nature than the blossom of spring. Its long sprawling riffs shred shrill tones in a constant tumble of bleak grinding that when put in focus seems all to abrasive. Little charm emerged from its foundations, moments of respite through acoustics and the calming entrance of synths sparked some interest in brief shifts of tone but mostly its a drab and pale affair.

In the right mood this chromatic droning can be rather indulging and relaxing. The constant rumbling of the drums and the high tremble bass guitar plodding away becomes hypnotic as the textural shifts and directional changes seem to magnify with a sense of epic proportion. Stepping back from its harsh and ugly aesthetic doesn't leave one with many impressionable moments other than its break aways, like a singular moment in the middle of the third track. The harsh, angular grinding of steep riffs seems to fall wayside to a deep uprising of male choral voices upon soft synth that buries the guitar and elevates the music to a wondrous place. The following track dabbled a little with this too and the penultimate track has an epic conclusion as synths help elevate its climactic end to soaring heights.

Unfortunately for me, too much of the record is based around its harsh, unforgiving approach to atmosphere and so my attention doesn't serve it well. The most enjoyable moments came from synths and choral sounds that would overwhelm the guitar, soften the tone and elevate the mood but it was far and few between. I hold this band in high regard, I appreciate their approach to the genre and I will continue to be curious about their records even if its not quite for me it has been worth my time.

Rating: 5/10

Friday, 20 April 2018

Winterfylleth "The Hallowing Of Heirdom" (2018)

Hailing from the city of Manchester, Winterfylleth have harvested a reputation as being one of English Black Metal's more exciting bands, maybe even the UK's Metal scene in general as they have made a name for themselves, embracing the lands heritage with their music. I'm somewhat ignorant to them, having only briefly listened to some of their previous records. I thought I'd give this new one try and It was not what I was expected for they have done what many bands before have done and entirely removed all of the Metal from their sound, leaving them to explore their influences and inspirations with lush instrumentation of acoustic, cultural instruments that echo visions of eras gone by.

The Hallowing Of Heirdom is a transformative listen, its earthly, mellow choral chants underline and uplift these songs with its heathen roots as worrisome stringed instruments sing the blues and hardships of rural life. With serine acoustic guitars and an inspired composition of cultural instrumentation the atmosphere becomes vivid with the mild and moody weather of England's restless shores. Across these twelve songs we travel through different temperaments, exploring imagination as these beautiful and quaint melodies inspire visions of natural beauty and the mythic culture of simpler times ravaged by the cruelty of mother natures embrace.

The opening track The Shepherd makes a remarkable entrance as the albums most gorgeous and charming song, it is also the records most involved and "complex" as we explore this world through songs that mostly become somewhat stripped back in comparison, perhaps leaning on the acoustic guitar or singular instruments. It feels fitting of the albums vision to not always lean to the most engrossing moments where the music essentially crescendos as all the voices line up together but through the record it finds its way to these peaks a fair few times.

Although a wonderfully indulgent experience it is not without its lulls, moments where it drifts off into itself however that feels unavoidable given the select handful of instruments that make up this clear and potent sound. Initially I was in awe of its beauty but then it hit me, I have visited this pagan realm before. The Nymph sparked my memory, its composition very akin to Agalloch's The White record. Both are wonderful listens but this one stretches itself a little thin in comparison however that's no reason not to enjoy this wonderfully scenic and soulful music.

Favorite Tracks: The Shepherd, Elder Mother, The Nymph
Rating: 7/10

Tuesday, 17 April 2018

Izioq "Hey Listen!" (2018)

Within the space of a week we have been graced with two new, short but sweet Izioq records! Late Night Golfing ventured into the spacey, nostalgic world of vaporware and the cutely named Hey Listen! brings us back to familiar territory. Its another selection of warm, fuzzy and carefree songs arriving here, set to relax and wind us down with colorful melodies that breeze through fields of innocence. Much of this record hits on the familiar childhood feels, the mixing of retro textured Chiptune VGM instruments and soft synths with warm piano melodies is as vibrant and characteristic as ever. Another round of youthful and spirited songs play us through the wonders of imagination, Its much of what Ive said before that applies again and so its probably unsurprising that my focus turns to the moments of difference.

The title track erupts with some spice as Latino guitars bustle warm cultural chords, somehow mixing right in with splashes of sound that introduce bright, cheerful melodies on chirpy waveform instruments, the chemistry is wonderful and unexpected. Hermits gets a nod for its wonderfully quirky opening tune that swiftly finds its way into a warm and spirited place as the music so often does, its opening goof diverting expectations. The Album will perk ears with a sampling of Lisa Simpsons voice, the song itself slow and dreamy, drifting in a precarious, slightly dreary but free of danger atmosphere. The final track Happy Meal sounds almost like another project altogether, its deep and rich atmosphere pulling on emotional strings similar to the likes of Sigur Ros, its welcome but feels like a different avenue of mood. All in all its another fine collections of melodies with a couple of sparks from rewarding experimentation.

Favorite Tracks: Hey Listen!, Hermits
Rating: 5/10

Monday, 16 April 2018

Logic "Bobby Tarantino II" (2018)

Its another case of "I keep hearing that name" and in Logic's case I may deserve a slap for not getting around to the Beverly Hills rapper sooner. At almost ten years into his career Logic has graced every year with an album or mix tape, of which this is the latter, a squeal to his 2016 mix tape of the same name. The intro track alone lets you know he has fans in cultural places, a feature from the fictional characters Rick and Morty play out an amusing narrative of the two debating which Logic project they wish to enjoy together on their intergalactic travels.

To start of with some unapologetic praise, my experience with Bobby Tarantino II leads me to believe that Logic may just be the amalgamation of Hip Hop's past, present and possibly future as the young rapper seems to have a master on the prominent styles and techniques associated with spitting rhymes on the mic. Across the fourteen tracks he displays a mastery of his own ability as words arrive in all manor of deliveries. From relaxed, laid back, half sung and auto tuned lines to rapid technical flows delivering a torrents of rhymes in choppy rhythms, Logic also hits on many mid paced flows too, showing hes got a wealth of style to pull on.

There aren't many moments of pure originality but whatever technique is brought to the mic, he owns it. When in comes to topics a lot of the album lyrics revolves around self relevance, the hard work and hustle to establish himself and defiance at his critics. Its all wrapped in smart and sleek, sturdy rhyme schemes that generally hits a reasonably high bar of quality without too many exceptional moments. As much as I enjoy his rhymes and flow they wern't responsible for the moments that stood out the most to me on this project.

Behind his voice we have a equally high bar of entry for the instrumentals which have a wonderful balance of older sample driven styles and modern trap influenced production that keeps things flowing fresh and fun from start to end. Indica Badu's laid back, summer and sun instrumental peaks the vibes at the records midpoint but its Logic's singing in the chorus and on Boomtrap Protocol that elevates the music. This plays into what I was talking about at the beginning of this article, hes mastered a lot with his voice and its special when he bounces between rhymes to singing the hooks.

 Overall I feel like this was a fantastic introduction to a very talented individual, however I get this impression he can do better. There's little to criticize but a lot of the topics he rhymes about feel a step behind his technique. Id also point out 44 More sounds very similar to Kendrick Lamar's DNA. One thing he has got down is the singing and use of auto tune. The songs with strong choruses really light up from the passion he brings through his voice. Fantastic record! Gonna have to work my way through his back catalog now!

Rating: 7/10
Favorite Tracks: Boomtrap Protocol, Indica Badu, Warm It Up, Everyday

Sunday, 15 April 2018

Turnstile "Space & Time" (2018)

Hailing from Baltimore USA, Hardcore Punk outfit Turnstile are set to make a splash with this fantastic sophomore album released through the reputable Roadrunner Records. Despite playing in a genre that's approaching its forth decade the five piece group bring a healthy dose of youthful vitality to give every thrashing of a power chord and striking of the drum kit a sense of urgency and meaning. From the get go its a grabbing listen set to suck you in and spit you out ready to take on the world! At just twenty five minutes its a short and sweet thrashing that leaves one rejuvenated.

With a crisp, finely cut production, Turnstile's charisma is squeezed out with succulent, appetizing guitar tones, ripping with a bright, blinding distortion the lets every riffs intensity breeze by. The hard thrashing of chords, leaning into Crossover territory at times is a constant driving force but its not where the band charm, or should I say charm the most, these riffs slam hard! With keen compositions they interpolate aesthetics, disrupting and rerouting the intensity that's all to obvious with the straightforward Hardcore approach. Each song finds its moment to steer the ship in smart yet slightly unconventional directions to much avail.

On the heated, angered Generator this direction becomes obvious when the song seems set to erupt yet falls back into a shoegazing calm of aesthetic guitar effects and sampled drum loop that then swiftly jumps out into a chomping guitar riff illuminated by fantastic vocals and a swell guitar solo. For the other songs that dabble in this play with unexpected directions it is often the vocals that play a key role as the fiery shouts and screams seem a distant memory in the wake of smooth, gleaming vocal lines that rise above the instrumental. It has to be said the screams are fantastic tho, and very akin to a young Tom Araya of the legendary Slayer.

In other instances its less obvious, like the frantic piano stabbing that elevates the fast pummeling riffage of High Pressure, adding a real sharp intensity for a brief moment. It always seems like their is a quirk up the sleeve, a slightly unusual idea to give a very structured sound a sense of freedom and exploration as the songs steer themselves into exciting moments with plenty of mini guitar solos to lead you into the fun. It comes from all angles with creative drum grooves and clap sounds dropping in to abstract the norm in opportune moments too.

Space & Time is such a fun, vibrant and youthful record that is simply brimming with excitement as its aesthetic and compositions continually dazzle and erupt with aggressive energies that are steered away from dark places. Thanks to its creativity, the anger is often uplifted as brooding guitar riffs find a touch of bounce and groove, ready to steer things upwards as the songs take their usual shifts into interesting places. One thing to note, the introduction of these more melodic, warm musical voices greatly out shine the songs more routed to the norm. Fantastic record with some clear winners in the track listing!

Favorite Tracks: Generator, I Don't Wanna Be Blind, Can't Get Away, Moon, Time & Space
Rating: 8/10

Saturday, 14 April 2018

Cardi B "Invasion Of Privacy" (2018)

American rapper Cardi B's breakout single Bodak Yellow caught my attention, as it did for many people. The hit single has gone five times platinum, launching her career into the limelight of the Hip Hop scene. Her unapologetic attitude, empowered delivery and plain use of language lets her Bronx accent charm on the microphone while she flows at a steady, sturdy pace that's easy to take in. She's got a vivid persona, energy and passion thats all about her rise to fame, a rags to riches tale of working hard to escape her life as a stripper and make in the rap industry, which no one can take away from her now given her record breaking arrival on the scene.

Unfortunately there is little substance beyond her hustle hard story which is told well on the opening track. With the album loading its best tunes into the first five tracks it quickly descends into a mud slinging romp of aggressive hyperbole after she tells her break up story on Be Careful. It starts with Chance The Rapper who features on Best Life, singing with a weak temperament, delivering a forgettable chorus repeating the "skrt skrt" noise over and over. From this point the record losses me entirely, either its the beats, rhymes or singing but something on earth track just rubs me the wrong way.

Money Bag has a banging beat and Cardi's flow is fire but lyrically is all to bitter and spiteful to enjoy, constantly taking hits at her doubters over and over again. When its become the recurrent theme to talk down at the same people it gets stale quickly. Every song focuses on throwing out insults while showing off her wealth and riches with a typically materialistic and braggadocios manor. These are the points where rappers can easily loose me and unfortunately it seems to be all Cardi has to offer beyond her endearing rags to riches story told in the first few songs.

The production is as modern and trendy as it gets. Pretty much all you could expect from the current state of Hip Hop. Some of the songs really go overboard on the "skrt skrt" sounds and goofy noises, the Migos manage hold themselves back somewhat and drop in with breezy verses utilizing a lot of spacious reverb to much effect on Drip. She Bad on the other hand has the laziest hook writing Ive heard in some time, just repeating the same words over and over. Ultimately this record just leaves me disappointed, I hope Cardi can find some real subject matter to get her teeth into on future albums because without substance her flow feels wasted to me.

Favorite Tracks: Get Up 10, Bodak Yellow
Rating: 3/10

Friday, 13 April 2018

Steve Roach "Structures From Silence" (1984)

Every now and then you stumble on the record you have been waiting to hear, years of adoring ambient music has had me desiring for an experience so simple yet deeply majestic and here it is. American composer Steve Roach's third full length is considered a classic within the genre and it takes one listen to know why. The seventies brought in an electronics revolution thanks to the likes of Kraftwerk and Progressive Rock outfits who embraced synthesizers. Brian Eno emerged at the forefront of this musical movement with his Ambient record series, brandishing the term and laying down foundations that would inspire many artists to come.

One of them is Steve Roach, who on this record focuses much of his efforts into the texture of his synthesizers, which at the time were big old clunky machines that had lots of knobs, dials and cables to manage. Working them was a true craft that would of taken Steve much time to achieve the gloriously soft and airy tones heard on this record. That may of made it sound like a novelty of sorts but the power and magic of these finely tuned instruments gives tremendous weight to stirring an enchanting atmosphere that's stood the test of time.

In terms of its composition, many sounds are temporal and devoid of any obvious melody or structure. These three songs, thirteen, seventeen and almost thirty minutes long focus on the arrival, duration and departure of astral synths that find chemistry with one another in their passing encounters. The length of one note bleeds into another an in some instances their unions persuade with the power of a chord but its temporal nature diverts the pace and measure required for melody to emerge, giving enigmatic influences to the instruments ability to memorize with its aesthetic.

The atmosphere and visions it conjures may be rather personal. Its smooth, calming persuasion and gentle pace is undoubtedly relaxing and soothing but the places it takes you may differ from one listener to the next. For me a feeling of immersion in a moment takes place. Time stands still and one can gaze their eyes upon the details that a slice of time has hidden in its arcane mystery. Color and cosmic wonder cross the mind in what to many might be star gazing music, to look up and ponder, to look inwards and reflect. Steve's compositions put the mind at ease and subsequently opens a door to deeper thoughts locked in the crevasses of the mind.

Rating: 9/10

Thursday, 12 April 2018

Kool G Rap "4, 5, 6" (1995)

Prior to some research on this record, I would of lumped in Queens rapper Kool G Rap in the Golden Era of Hip Hop, simply for my vague memories enjoying his records with DJ Polo and also as a name I hear a lot of my favorite 90s rapper cite as a big influence. Turns out he is considered an originator of Mafioso Rap for some of his street rhymes with DJ Polo. After three records the two split and this debut as a solo artist comes out right at the peak of Mafioso Rap's emergence. Around the same time Raekwon, AZ, Nas, Mobb Deep, Notorious B.I.G and Jay-Z dropped classics in the sub-genre. Its what caught my ear when it spun on shuffle. Ive been binging it the last few days and adoring how sweetly it sits into that moment of time, its truly of the era.

My biggest take away from this record is Kool himself, his ability and technical prowess is simply undeniable! He spits fast and concise with a strong tone that makes every word visible as he navigates through tricky flows of rhymes that one might say "he makes sound easy". The reality is obvious that he is rhyming tough and hard, fast technical schemes that pay off with his ability. It makes me think Ive overlooked a great here. If his ability is great the lyrical content may be a step behind, coherent story telling violent word play doesn't have quite the emotional weight to reinforce his impressive ability. Kool navigates us through tough Mafioso rhymes of hardcore street life and criminology rap thats gritty and dark, steeped in violence and gang life however it always feels short of a point or any social context or message.

The production is all you could hope for from a mid nineties Hip Hop album. Caught in that sweet spot between jazzy samples and programmed instrumentation, it plays out with a nice amount variety reflected with the tone of songs like "Take Em To War", dark, menacing and gloomy which over a few songs finds its way to "Fast Life", a sunny summer party track flashing the wealth and lifestyle side of family crime life. On first listen I was literally thinking this song would be perfect for Nas who then steps on the mic and delivers a fantastic verse. Parts of the record felt a little deju-va, as some of the songs feeling somewhat cast from the mold. Echos of Big L's instrumental style can be heard with the same samples and gang shouts parallel to his debut. Of course looking into the producers we have Buckwild who explains the similarity, his "Blowin' Up In The World" has some of the same beats, samples from Big L and the gang shouts have to be by the same guys! Maybe it was a left over from that session that made it here.

If I sound critical, its all praise, the production is wonderful, the instrumentals are what I love with exception to the final track that samples Herbie Hancock's Watermelon Man. Its a really fun instrumental but its totally contrasted against the violent, money obsessed lyrics. It just sounds odd as a whole. Overall its a sharp and keen album that's bang on the Mafioso crime family vibes and I feel it falls a little short in terms of lyrical substance however the brilliance of Kool is obvious and I'm left feeling like I need to get better acquainted with his work.

Favorite Tracks: Blownin' Up In The World, Fast Life, Ghetto Knows
Rating: 7/10

Wednesday, 11 April 2018

Izioq "Late Night Golfing" (2018)

Coming in just shy of sixteen minutes we have a new, short and concise release from Izioq, the French composer of fun, playful music that ties itself closely to video game music and 90s childhood nostalgia. Late Night Golfing is the first album to experiment beyond the traditional style Izioq has established, with clear and obvious Vapourwave vibes which are also echoed in the albums cover. Its saturated colors and 90s computer rendering art being in tune with the genres practices, as well as the music itself.

It doesn't however feel like much of an experimentation, the tone and atmosphere feels settled and established with the Vapourwave aesthetic from the get go, however that doesn't start until the third song. The first two feel like the link between records as lead melodies play out inspiring, innocent tunes over soft, airy, floating synth tones, much like you would expect. With Golf! the record kicks into gear, the melodies dwindle down to simpler forms and the atmosphere of warm and wavy cloud synths take over in a meditative persuasion.

For these five songs a simple set of instruments and light reverberated percussion shift on simple A B structures. The compositions capture that airy, carefree and indulgent mood and they inhabit a sweet spot to drift into as the repetition drones in comfort. The last track has some strong Brian Eno vibes and the whole thing is simply pleasant and easy on the listener, its only downfall is perhaps the lack of time spent in this curious, easy going place. At just sixteen minutes each listen requires a repeat!

Favorite Tracks:
Rating: 4/10

Tuesday, 10 April 2018

Death Grips "No Love Deep Web" (2013)

Not long of the back of their utterly brilliant Money Store debut, the Sacramento trio Death Grips surround themselves in controversy by releasing this album for free online despite their record label Epic pushing back the release date to clear the sampling rights. It ended up with them being dropped from the label, that and the album cover stirred up a lot of talk around the record. To write the album name across an erect penis is a pretty bizarre antic, the fact they did it and used it is pure art, even if obscene or offensive to some when an idea is brought into the physical world its reactions have meaning, even if mostly comical or amusing and sometimes upsetting.

They are steeped in rebellion, deconstructing any norms with their behavior and antics however it wouldn't be as interesting without the music and in this moment I think we find the group at their most cohesive and uniformed musically. No Love Deep Web is a highly synthetic record, steeped in electronic tones that make for a steady and consistent thirteen tracks that flow together in any order. Whats great is that it doesn't bore or tire in its forty five minute duration however there are clearly high and low points with Black Dice's hooks and melodies not quite landing as hard with a rather tame MC Ride rhyming in a temperate manor.

In comparison the opener Come Up And Get me is an absolute banger, as many songs are from this record, its monstrous engulfing bass noise and stereo panned synths are as dizzying as the paranoid and manic MC Ride who spews out dark and troubling narratives in a frantic manor, playing out the last moments of a paranoid schizophrenic individuals last moments seemingly being hunted for some wrong doing. The tone set on its opener is fitting for whole record where Ride seems to be falling into the darkness of apathy and misanthropy as he deconstructs human behavior to a deeply lonely and suspicious mindset.

His dark and violent persona is oddly contrasted to the instrumentals, they don't align with one another yet the chemistry is just magic. With a high tolerance for experimentation, elasticated grooves and of kilter beats intersect conventional rhythms which sharp, crisp and snappy textures. The electronics play off these tight drums with a keen ear, often complementing the grooves with spacious songs that play of their groove. The electronics and synths are very spacey and "out there". Lots of rich alien textures and quirky melodies that between thirteen tracks have a lot of variety while still sounding very uniform. Pop is the records most spacey song, its charging up synth noises leading into a astral melody exemplifies this quality in the record.

I rate this album highly for how fantastic and interesting it was before I knew it like the back of my hand. With time it feels as if half the tracks have staled somewhat as these songs do lack a certain density to them. The compositions in all fairness are relatively minimalist, the noisy nature of the electronics do mask its simplicity but one half of the record that's never been a problem. Those songs have held up tremendously well and a handful would be contenders for my favorite Death Grips songs.

Favorite Tracks: Come Up And Get Me, Lil Boy, No Love, Hunger Games, Pop, Bass Rattle Stars Out The Sky, Artificial Death In The West
Rating: 9/10

Monday, 9 April 2018

Sarah Longfield "Collapse // Expand" (2017)

Sarah Longfield is one of a fair few rising stars in the "Youtube Musician" world that's been steadily growing over these last few years. Her flashy guitar skills and rainbow paint 8 string guitar stand out in the crowd. A new single and music video had me come check this record out! However I just learned its actually over a year old but who says you can't release singles for old songs? Its definitely one of the best songs of the albums ten tracks which clock in at thirty seven minutes.

Sarah's style falls very snugly into the colorful, guitar revolving post-Djent sound that's seen Meshuggah's violent use of 8-strings guitars somehow evolve into a fruitful musical forum of bright, luminous guitar playing that puts dazzling melodies and blazing lead guitar skills at the forefront of its ambitious sound. It mostly began with Animals As Leaders and Gru who Sarah doesn't distinguish her music from much with this record. The jittery, fluttering electronic percussion and sweeping, looping melodies feature heavily and with tracks like "Concentration Chaos" where she actually steps further into the electronic side of this sound with a very interesting composition that's got an alien, yet harmless, curious atmosphere about it.

The electronics are a huge part of this record and the opening song "A New Discovery" doesn't make a first impression well. Its opening guitar chords and glitched synth noises sound almost lifted from the Animals As Leaders blueprint. However as the album develops its electronic presence becomes integral as sweeping synths, busying melodies and all flavors of rich synth tones wrap themselves around the guitars with a dreamy helping of reverberation. In some moments the lead guitar tones even seem to merge or morph with them as its layers of sounds work in tandem.

The Djent aspect is really downplayed. No big punching tones are accentuated and the moments where the music drops back to rhythm guitar are sparse and well executed with temperate grooves and light yet punchy distortions. The lead guitar playing is phenomenal with luscious two handed tapping sweeping up and down the strings in semi acoustic tones, interchanging with traditional lead playing with a pick, all across bright, colorful and inspired melodies one can follow with adventure. Her vocals too feature at attune moments where her soft and meek voice can find its space to evolve the atmosphere.

These songs are wonderful at breezing their way through a journey. With a lack of traditional song structure they twist and turn, weaving their webs with a sense of journey that has you riding the melody from one moment to the next. Its the density of the additional elements around the lead guitar that really solidify and holds its presence to command a bright, warm, slightly alien atmosphere that's intriguing and charming from start to finish.

Favorite Tracks: Ember, Tydes, Illuminate
Rating: 7/10

Sunday, 8 April 2018

Pallbearer "Sorrow And Extinction" (2012)

Sorrow And Extinction is a gloomily fitting title for this sullen, bewildering debut record by the acclaimed American Doom Metal band Pallbearer of Arkansas. Charmed by their newer albums Foundations Of Burden and Heartless I wanted to complete my journey through their catalog, which is rooted in a genre Ive never fully connected with. Their artistic approach to Doom Metal has the deathly slow pace traversed with burly lunges of oozing guitar distortion, making a mark on the genre far more interesting and intricate. Coming back to this origin point one can hear the cracks and creeks in the sound that would be greased out by their sophomore but even its flaws are mostly aesthetic.

Once again Pallbearer have me at the mercy of their sludgy pacing and dense foggy distortion tone. The feeling of imminent gloom and suffering revels in a bleak landscape that seems to find life just above the swampy guitar movements that crawl and lunge forward with a burden weighing it down so. This dark and esoteric sound has a natural and decaying quality where music of this nature so often falls into the realm of of evil and fantasy, something feels root and grounded, deeply earthly about Pallbearers journey through sorrows.

The guitar are poised at the mercy of singer Campbell who swings it in this carnal, earthly direction as his light and cruising voice swiftly sails out from the depths with finely held notes that coarse through the mist with an ambiguous touch of reverb that's both ghostly and living at the same time. The moments where he sings as lead guitars erupt over the brooding guitars are the most fantastic on this record. The leads too inflict much needed respite from the monstrous guitars as they break up the monotony and blossom with color and motion.

The album falls short where it fails to maintain its balance, or keep from letting the gloom become too engulfing. Treating the album as a single experience their are lengthy passageways devoid of that important break and respite that brings the music to life and gives the sprawling guitar sludge a sense of hidden beauty, for when it drags it drags its feet slowly. In the moments the chemistry is ripe its a very captivating listen but lengthy compositions hold these moments at bay. I also found the production to be a little jagged with its handling of the dense guitars which can all to easy dominate in a very interesting musical setting.

Favorite Tracks: Devoid Of Redemption
Rating: 6/10

Friday, 6 April 2018

Childish Gambino "Because The Internet" (2013)

Gambino's final album Awaken, My Love was a real treat of rich, indulgent, soulful music reviving the sounds and emotions from genres mostly originating in the early decades of the last millennium. I very much enjoyed it and going back to his prior releases I was expecting the shift to Rap and Hip Hop but not the freedom and creativity this record endures. At the time I caught wind of the release was only through negative reviews and I'm wondering what on earth they heard that was so bad?

This album is warm, breezy and fun, an exploratory journey with plenty of the Soul, R&B, Psychedelia and Jazz creeping in that would blossom to become the main focus on Awaken. If there is a complaint it may be Glover's rap persona, a rather wild, fun and carefree character who jumps all over the place with topics and a wide variety of eccentric moments to disrupt the norm in his raps which come with a healthy variety of flows. Personally I find it refreshing even if its not a home run each time, Glover is expressing himself with an endearing charm and plenty of mature lyrics between his energetic outbursts.

The album warms up with the aforementioned sounds of previous decades, fusing soulful, jazzy instrumentation and samples with tight, sharp beats. As it grows, modern sounds of Dance, Synthpop and even Rave creep into some tracks for some real banging party numbers in between a flow of rather indulgent, experimental and unstructured music. From the mid to end the album struggles with pacing as many halfway tracks are littered between skits and short quirky tracks. Its mostly good artistic fun but the album suffers from a lack of direction from this point as the music falls into a whirlpool of ideas that keep jumping from one to the next before being fully realized, despite showing lots of musical chemistry and charm.

Because The Internet is a fun free for all of musical ideas and inspired creativity that's fresh, exciting but unstructured, youthful and without focus. Your opinion could swing either way and I find myself in awe of the moments where its chemistry flows and a little frustrated when it dips into the swirling of ideas that don't lead anywhere. For it to be one thing or the other would be great but caught in the middle it becomes a mixed bag of fruits that certainly yields some fantastic songs to come back to over and over again. As a listening experience its drags its feet periodically and that's a little sad as Donald Glover is clearly a very talented man but on this release its perhaps its a lack of experience that hinders it.

Favorite Tracks: Crawl, Worldstar, Shadows, Oakland, 3005, Life Is The Biggest Troll
Rating: 7/10

Thursday, 5 April 2018

Suicidal Tendencies "Get Your Fight On!" (2018)

It would seem that Suicidal are in a stride. The legendary Crossover Thrash outfit from Venice beach have graced this decade with dedicated touring and a couple of albums, of which this short EP is warming us up for another album to come later in the year. Their last effort World Gone Mad was a reasonable release but for an old band sticking to their roots there was little too surprise with. If they wanted to wet the appetite with this EP then there isn't much in sight of originality or creativity beyond doing their sound again. Consisting of a Stooges cover, three new songs and two re-recordings from singer Mike Muir's solo project Cyco Miko. The EP is brief and fun for a couple of listens but that's about it.

 With new tracks Get United and iAuthority, the band stir up a warm atmosphere with jiving baselines prowling and acoustic guitar riffs in the main sections. It creates a rather musical and relaxed setting for Mike to get angry with his passionate shouts. The full on guitar distortion comes in with an exotic color in the chorus, flavorful and punchy however on Nothing To Loose and S.E.D. its business as usual with fast chomping Hardcore beats and dizzying thrash guitars with Mike throwing down is usual eccentric vocal inflections. With just a singular moment of interest through Get United this EP offers little other than what you'd expect, if its the same old Suicidal your looking for then you got it right here.

Favorite Track: Get United
Rating: 3/10

Sunday, 1 April 2018

Migos "Culture II" (2018)

Prior to picking up this album I watched a video essay about the length of the record. At a trying hour and forty five minutes this follow up to their hit record Culture is a double album loaded with mediocrity. The essay theorized that artists may pursue longer play times in order to inflate stream numbers and increase record sales certifications. Its a reasonable theory that sighted Drake's More Life as a release which is actually labeled as a playlist as opposed to an album or record.

If the Migos where aiming at streaming culture and extended play sessions then they certainly achieved that. Culture II's production has a hypnotic, indulgent and easy vibe one can sink into as the lyrics and words pass you by. The length comes at a price, with exception to a less that a handful of tracks most these songs only hit a reasonable faction of excitement. There are very few gems in a lengthy lull that plays like background music, mood setting but hardly immediate. Even if condensed to a single album It would struggle to peak beyond setting the Migos tone.

The trio give an impression of being self indulged, "in the moment" and living in the moment. In other words, It doesn't feel like much of whats being said is thought through or even revised. Many of the hooks lack depth, wit, weight or anything other than feeling like they are vibeing with the music. On occasions it works but the lack of filter means a lot of repetition and a plethora of goofy, ridiculous lyrics, "pulling up like huggies" a line that makes me chuckle every time, of which there are many.

The Migos vocals and instrumentals have that middle line of trendy noises and vocal quirks like the "skrt skrt" that tie the two aspects together. In this instance they go overboard, to the point I was constantly laughing at the dorky vocal inflections and auto tune manipulations that again come in abundance with very little filter. I think I said it with the last record but a decade or two from now these are going to sound very dated. They are executed with style, image and swagger over artistic intent and articulated expression. It says very little other than "cool" and trendy.

Culture II is a slug of a record on the lyrical front. It has a handful of mediocre, uninspired features. Post Malone sounds under utilized but a surprise came in the way of Cardi B and Niki Minaj who brought two strong verses, vicious and full of attitude they dropped train of thought narratives that rise like a monolith with nothing similar else in sight. It lit up a track the Migos where mumbling their way through until the two of them gave it some substance. Its obvious the Migos are all about mood and tone which no one can do it like they do, unfortunately this record has very little beyond a saturated vibe.

Favorite Tracks: Stir Fry, Motorsport
Rating: 5/10