Those heat waves we experienced a few months back brought an artist to the fore who clearly bared zeal for the hip-hop and soul machinations he decontextualized. The plundered loot showcased in Alex Gray’s sonic collage not only cataloged his fondness for slicing and dicing unrelated material, but the fashion in which he framed his tracks saw an artist building new environments for old favorites before abrasively cutting them out or dousing them with surface fizzle. Despite revealing a similarly ruthless tendency to borrow from sources of inspiration, free-range NYC enigma Gobby proves to be quite the contrary.
After stockpiling the serious clout he earned from percussion contributions at a Hype Williams show and for turning out mad batches of beat production for the likes of Mykki Blanco, each fresh Gobby EP comes projected by a cadence of critical intrigue. But while his infectious stream of free releases have generated potent clumps of online acclaim, Lantern is by far his most pugnacious outing yet. Instead of arranging a flamboyant affection for borrowed content, Gobby has jerked every sample through a heinous obstacle course of footwork while flexing abstract technical flair and pissing into a ferocious wind of commercial hip-hop. This is Hulk Hogan let loose on Cash Money, mashing his rant out in the wildest depths of the k-hole.
Abuse is a strong word, but when Gobby decides on what to sample next, surely the intention is to maintain mere fragments of any original material after deforming it void of context; the resulting substance is then hurled into a dual-drive flexi-blade beat processor until it undergoes the following phase of disfigurement. Take the use of Drake’s “Trust Issues,” where, on the original, repetition is used to imply some kind of thuggish sincerity. Gobby takes two lines from the track and manipulates them in order to construct a completely deranged (per)version of vocabulary, which then becomes embedded within a jagged landscape of percussive assault. “You’re the only one” is looped so audaciously that the words congeal into a gilded hook on “Calumet,” where each syllable plays out into a disorientating mesh. Not only does that create a feeling of warped familiarity within a track that boasts a pitch-shifted Power Rangers fight scene intro, but it also makes sense of the initial sample that kicks the section off: on Drake’s effort, the line “that’s the shit that drives me crazy” comes after some self propagating, semi-confessional lyrical flow, but on Gobby’s revision, it works as a sensational drop after the first two words are battered against one another so rapidly they are unrecognizable until the declaration is heard in its entirety.
Being able to replicate this technique with such mesmerizing tact, to the point that Gobby designs his own back-slang, his own fucked up language, is what makes Lantern such a cracking listen. The unprecedented throttle of the title track and the anaphylactic surge of “Trans.09” allow this otherwise anonymous Harlem-based producer to exemplify his talents at a pace previously unexplored. Whoever this elusive character might be, he continues to demonstrate a pliable cunning within the genres that inspire, even if his samples are regarded as sloppy seconds as opposed to choice cuts.
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