Monday, 13 August 2018

Travis Scott "Astroworld" (2018)


Anticipation for this record has been a thorn in the side, a constant ache commanding me to routinely check for its arrival with no release date mentioned. Its a frequent trend these days to drop albums with only a short notice. Although my reviews of Birds In The Trap Sing McKnight and Rodeo were not especially favorable I could hear something unique in Travis. Its truly manifested as the power of shuffle and time away from his music had those songs giving back more with each listen. After plenty of binging Id even consider Rodeo a modern Hip Hop classic. As my love for his sound grew, so has my apatite for more, hence the growing anticipation.

Astroworld had been grossly hyped. Given my knowledge of Six Flags Astroworld thanks to a Defunctland documentary, my curiosity was peaked as to what the closed theme parks roll in its topicality was this time around. Given my often disconnect from the lyrical aspects of music I certainly didn't pick up on any particular theme beyond a few references and so Astroworld has landed soft, nothing feels particularly distinct or intentional and so the promise of an obscure topic for a Hip Hop record is lost on me.

Reflecting back as to how the other records took months and even years to grow on me I figured its best not to rush into making up my mind on Astroworld. Although it hasn't charmed me I can analytically hear some stylistic progressions, expansive instrumentation and compositional ideas blossoming into indulging atmospheres, however the over saturated "skrt skrt"s and "its lit" cries coming from the background with excessive reverbs hold the music to its previous step, overshadowing what makes this record unique, retrospectively speaking.

The sleek dark atmospheres and romping grooves of tracks like Sicko Mode and Carousel are to be expected but get the album rolling in a different gear to the rest of its run time. The synthesizers and aesthetic of the music drifts into a peculiar place more psychedelic, dreamy and laid back than the urban darkness heard in his previous efforts. At times it can feel uplifting, the track Skeletons embodies this however its brief moment of what seems like a stream of conscious rap seems to loose its own train of thought as Travis morphs into a derogatory pair of rhymes spit very much in the style of Kanye West, a voice, tone and style you can hear in his flows often across the project.

My take away from Atroworld at this point is a lack of stylistic focus. Much of his production style traits stay intact and flirts with more excess as he layers some lyrics with gated reverbs and the like. The album steers its sampling and instrumentation beyond the percussion with R&B accents, some eclectic instruments like the harmonica and organ, it fails to nail a vibe that sucks you in. As stated above I am willing to let this one sink in and hope it reveals more meaning and indulgence with some absence and revival.

Favorite Tracks: Sicko Mode, Stop Trying To Be God, No Bystanders, Butterfly Effect,
Rating: 5/10

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