Cannibal Ox are back, buds, and I’m real, real pleased to say that not much has changed since those long-gone-now, so sepia-toned days when The Cold Vein monopolized your headphone space. The Harlem duo’s 12-year hiatus contained the end of their former label Def Jux and the ascent of their former producer/living rap deity El-P to the highest rungs of the Ladder of Cred (who else is already drooling over Run The Jewels??), but MCs Vast Aire and Vordul Mega(llah) seem up to the same old, same old: trapped in an aural urban wasteland, wading through a thick layer of pigeon shit, shouting down alleyways, lifting four middle fingers up to the skyline. Their second full-length album hits sometime this year. In the meantime, we get the three tracks of the Gotham maxi single to tide us over.
On the title track, Vast and Vordul vibe together as viciously as ever, the former all patience, the latter all blunt force. Vast’s rhythmic dynamism and crisp articulation transform would-be clumsy lines like “You can get a facelift with a box cutter/ That’s Mad Cow, son” into nuggets of menacing New York wisdom. Vordul’s chorus booms assertions of dominance “even when struggling at the bottom,” while his double-tracked verse blends “roof” and “ruthless” into a perfectly marble-mouthed homophone. Producer Bill Cosmiq doesn’t stray too far from the El Producto template; his synths and strings howl over a boom-bap kick+snare shuffle as thick, almost trombone-like pulses punctuate the mix. Check out “Gotham” below or hear the maxi single in full here. If you’re into owning digital copies of things, you can cop it from Amazon — or you can wait it out for the full-length sometime soon (I hope).
“Whatever Makes You Happy”
Some loops feel like they should go on forever. As in, it would be perfectly alright if said loop would be the only constant variable in an increasingly dynamic and confusing world. Everybody else would go on, walking parallel to cars and trains and airplanes, all doing the same monotonous task they do every day, content in the knowledge that there is one simple aspect of their lives that they can enjoy without change. Adam Worthan’s music is exactly that: a comfortable afternoon lying underneath the rain in a sunroom, sinking into a comfortable corduroy couch with your dog, absentmindedly sifting through photo albums that date back to your childhood. Some images trigger memories, some don’t. Today is a day for you; so sit back and enjoy it. Whatever makes you happy.
• Adam Worthan: http://adamworthan.bandcamp.com
M. Geddes Gengras
If I were to use the MPAA film rating system, I’d give SYSTEMS 0 a G rating. There’s nothing necessary dramatic about it. And in my mind, even though it’s overwhelming in worship, there’s nothing really preventing your imagination from wandering while listening. As 2001: A Space Odyssey did for the G-rating, M. Geddes forces this notion right back into the minds of listeners through complete exploratory imagination. The mystery behind Cirque du Soleil is hidden within each heart beat at the center of SYSTEMS 0.
SYSTEMS 0 is actually Ged’s follow-up to last year’s 905 Tapes triple release SYSTEMS 1, which is equally nasty. Both are huge undertakings, so prepare for a hell of a lot of mazed-out bleep-praise. If you don’t currently see wires when you close your eyes, you will by the end of SYSTEMS 0. So fry yourself out on this young prequel, and feel the mechanics of M. Geddes Gengras’ GREEN MACHINE. Also, this dude is AWESOME.
• M. Geddes Gengras: http://mgeddesgengras1.bandcamp.com
Hus Kingpin & Rozewood
Tokyo Tower Mixtape
Long Island contains many a village like Hempstead (home of Hus Kingpin) and Amityville (home of Rozewood), where scenes of abject poverty and lavish wealth are found mere blocks from one another. The close physical proximity of these disparate worlds and high frequency of their intermingling are quite possibly a few of the reasons Long Island has such a rich tradition of street-savvy poet/griots whose voices are every bit as laid back as their stories are crime-laden (Roc Marciano, Prodigy, Grand Daddy I.U., Erick Sermon, and Rakim all come to mind). Thematically, the Tokyo Tower Mixtape is deeply rooted in this tradition. And while conceptually this might not be the most original release of the year — in fact, fellow LI MC Ryu Black dropped a “Japanese vacation” concept album of his own back in 2011 — it is a solid mixtape that has me excited to hear the duo’s forthcoming debut album, $100 Taper.
As for the artists themselves, I was already familiar with Hus Kingpin from his work as one half of Tha Connection, who collaborated with Roc Marc on “Strive.” Hus and Roc also got together for “Warm Hennessy.” Rozewood, on the other hand, I hadn’t heard until now, even though like Hus and Tha Connection, he’s previously released music on Digi Crates. To my surprise, though, he definitely holds his own. Actually, his solo cut “Midnight Run” is one of my favorite tracks on the whole tape, possibly because it makes direct reference to the clash of classes mentioned earlier.
• Digi Crates: http://shop.digicrates.com
Oh, okay, fun times. Let’s have it. Getcha cocktail and spill it on the dance floor. You dance to this? So does my pants’ crotch. Hit it up. Ain’t got no number because it’s old-school like dat. Wanna sip? Gotta suck it off my feet. Or I can just snag another. Cran-apple and gin? Scotch and orange juice? The bartender don’t understand good English. Give him a good tip, and maybe he’s got a shot glass. “No, put it in my hands. Yeah, thanks.” I rolled my eyes, did you? Okay, thanks for the backup. No, I didn’t tip his ass. Oh, shit, you see her out there? I can’t handle that. What you got in the move, daddy? You papi me to that grind? Okay-okay, I feel that slow motion. Candy bars are better in king-size, amirite? Don’t melt, please. I don’t need no stains. Hollly, shit. How questionable is THAT? Drunk? Or she doing the Octopus?
The last Cult Cosmos meeting I attended happened in a — ahhh, a k-hole two years ago. No. It was at the planetarium across from the Colosseum. —Err, was it the winter tennis court? Just, gurrl, that pants bump getting starchy. Let’s get around that and wear gym shorts next time. Mix the outcum with the drinks on the ground. And who cleans this mess up afterward? Oh, no, he’ll be asleep there — cellphone in hand — into the next morning. That boii cleaning nothing. Yeah, he was talking at my face like he knew it and called me Tina. Clearly I’m a Jackie, yo. Feel that lip? Fight the urge. Take them wobbly synth vibes as your queue to noodle a new dance, and impress what you will without feeling the need to fight your way out of this situation. It’s all chill.
Fall through this Earth with Cult Cosmos’ new joint Octopus on the free-skrill via Bandcamp pleasantries.
• Cult Cosmos: http://cultcosmos.bandcamp.com
no input mixing board #8
Ahh, good ol’ high frequencies. If there’s one musical element that can clearly be divided into a distinctive love or hate category, it’s definitely this one. Part of this is clearly related to how these extreme frequencies can actually cause the human body to feel viscerally ill (extreme low frequencies can do the same). For this reason, I often meet fellow experimental music enthusiasts who can handle hours of blaring white noise but cringe when a high frequency sine tone goes on for more than 30 seconds. Neither of those sounds are going to top most people’s easy listening list any time soon, but it’s interesting how our basic physiology determines the way we experience these extremes. We can grow accustomed to both pure tones and noise, but most human beings have a threshold for such sounds after an extended amount of time. But give yourself over to some extreme sonority for a little while, and the experience can be cleansing, even meditative from a sheer sonic level.
Toshimaru Nakamura has in many ways perfected the art of making beautifully introspective music out of these extreme textures. Nakamura’s ubiquitous no-input mixing board can produce everything from guttural rhythmic low-end to beautifully harsh high-frequency drones, and the composer frequently creates gestural works out of the intensity of these sounds. On this preview of his upcoming album no input mixing board #8 , Nakamura produces a marvelously complex drone held together by two beating high tones that sustain into oblivion, while the white noise and different tones beneath subtly shift around. At only two minutes, it’s the perfect introduction to the hypnotic world of extreme timbres.
Listen to the track below courtesy of p*dis, and stay tuned for more information on no input mixing board #8.
• Toshimaru Nakamura: http://www.japanimprov.com/tnakamura