Alias Eyes Closed EP

[Anticon; 2003]

Rating: 3/5

Styles: instrumental, hip-hop sample-trained electronica, taxtronica, IDM
Others: Boom Bip, Mum, Fennesz, cLOUDDEAD, Why?, The Postal Service

As someone who had his musical paradigm changed at the beginning stages of instrumental hip-hop, I frequently find myself feeling like everything in the genre has been done a thousand times.  Since DJ Shadow and DJ Krush brought the craft of hip-hop collage making in 1996 to the forefront, there have been at least a hundred instrumental hip-hop albums produced with great and lasting results; but countless others have fallen short with less than original ideas.  Anticon, while being a collection of pioneering turntablists and emcees, has set themselves apart from this long list of others by relying on an extremely distinctive sound.  

Alias, one of the harder working Anticon affiliates, has always been one of my other favorite artists from the collective.  His previous work with just about every Anticon collaborator has shown that he’s capable of standing shoulder-to-shoulder with some of the best.  With his new EP, titled Eyes Closed, Alias continues to drudge forward with five tracks of instrumental hip-hop.  “Eyes Closed” begins with dialogue of a woman discussing various aspects of American and foreign policy.  It’s then accompanied by typical sounds we are all used to hearing by Anticon DJ’s like Odd Nosdam and Controller7.  Other tracks like “Must Consume” and “Things Got A Little Ugly” carry on in the exact same fashion with snippets of dialogue and dreary electronics. 

Contributing to other projects has been a primary aspect of Alias’ career, but it’s his solo material that shows him at his best.  The five songs here, while nothing new to anyone who’s heard an Anticon album before, are mostly just safe reconstructions of past styles.  They are all, however, very decent songs.  The samples that have been used are probably the only thing that makes this stand out as an individual contribution.  Although I find myself irritated by a lot of what I’m hearing these days in this genre, Eyes Closed reiterates this idea by only falling somewhere near the middle of the pack.   

1. Eyes Closed
2. What Used to Be
3. Must Consume
4. Dec. 26th, 2002
5. Things Got a Little Ugly