13 & God 13 & God

[Alien Transistor; 2005]

Styles: indie-electronica, alternative rap, underground rap
Others: Themselves, Notwist, cLOUDDEAD

One could not imagine a more disparate collaboration of voices than that of Anticon founder Adam "Doseone" Drucker and Notwist's Markus Archer. The former's is notorious for running wild amuck octaves and tempos, often settling in a rapid nasal fire, while the latter's is poignantly warm and melodic. Which is to say nothing of the incongruity between the bands themselves. (Themselves and Notwist). So just how did 13 & God, formed during their North American Tour, manage to make it work? Well, they really didn't.

Only on one track ("If") do the two voices blatantly collaborate (I say blatantly because there may very well be less obvious partnership elsewhere, though, if such a case, it's hardly worth the note). Otherwise, Doseone and Markus keep their distance from each other, with the result that individual songs sound either like the product of one or the other, exclusively -- nothing to detract merit for, of course, but it would've certainly been nice, in light of such a monumental collaboration, to hear a more blended effort.

Such disparity, however, leads to a highly polarized album, and, conversely, an even more polarized reaction. That is to say, unless one is equally fond of both groups, reaction toward the album will either, depending on the listener, favor the Markus-dominant tracks or those led by Doseone. At the risk of losing the highly-valued, albeit illusory, sense of objective insight that is often granted the reviewer, I will admit that I am more a Notwist fan. Not surprisingly, I find tracks like the group's first single, "Men of Station," a haunting, soulful track with a one-line minimalist approach to lyrics, and the equally captivating "Perfect Speeds" to be the most rewarding songs on the album. It is true that neither song parallels anything on 2000's extraordinary Neon Golden, but they give the album's often tired cadence a well-received break.

As for the Doseone tracks, it is not so much that they are unsuccessful as they are successful to the most minimal degree. Those looking for a primer to Doseone's idiosyncratic style should look elsewhere (cLOUDDEAD in my biased opinion), for not only are they likely to be thrown off guard here (something inevitable), but also to be dismissive of the whole thing.

It's unfortunate that 13 & God neither succeeds nor fails. Instead, it just sort of lies there, stagnant. Every once in a while I can spot some vague motion lurking in the back, waiting for a chance perhaps, but before I can set my ear to it, it's gone.

1. Low Heaven
2. Men Of Station
3. Ghostwork
4. Perfect Speed
5. Afterclap
6. Soft Atlas
7. Tin Strong
8. If
9. Superman On Ice
10. Walk