Subtle A New White

[Lex; 2004]

Styles: experimental hiphop, alternative rap
Others: cLOUDDEAD, Fog, Themselves

For those that aren't in-the-know, Subtle is yet another group involving Dose One. He's accompanied by Themselves associates Jel and Dax Pierson, as well as Alex Kort, Marty Dowers, and Jordan Dalrymple. This group of six men does what you would call "experimental" music, even for those listeners who are accustomed to Dose's other projects. They've released four EPs so far; each titled a season, and now they have this fine little LP on Lex entitled A New White. Thankfully, the full-length is much more appealing than the EPs were.

On the EPs, there were lots of blatant experimentation; electronics mixed with acoustics, rapping combined with droned-out singing, and programmed drums layering together with live drums. The EPs showed promise, but sometimes they drifted off into mediocre-to-poor territory, relying too heavily on drones, tones, and hums. The final EP, Winter, was one 30-minute long track which didn't hold much replay value. These problems have clearly been solved on A New White. The songs are tighter, structured better, and overall more pleasurable. Dose has his usual neurotic lyrics at the forefront, with catchy vocal deliveries beautifully gracing the stellar musicianship the other members supply.

The presence of an acoustic guitar on "I Love L.A." and "Stiff Fruit" adds a much needed variation to the songs. When the album seems like it is about to veer off into pure electronics, some organic instrument or pop melody comes in to save face. Herein lays the charm of Subtle's work. They're a band that has clearly figured out that it's the subtle changes that make all the difference. Oh God -- I can not believe I just did that. Fire me now.

1. Song Meat
2. I Love L.A.
3. The Long Vein of the Law
4. Red, White, & Blonde
5. Silence...
6. The Hook
7. F.K.O.
8. Eyewash
9. Hand-Replacement
10. She
11. Stiff Fruit