August 10, 2014

EXPERIMENTAL HIP-HOP TRIFECTA: Clipping / Death Grips / frateleNORD

As you might be aware by now, TZEEEAC has become a filthy hipster-ridden hole on the internet, where the mainstream is pretty much shunned in favor of the underground, the obscure, the hidden and (at times) the occult. We have specific, yet all-encompassing tastes - as long as they fall within the limits of the weird and the heavy. Electronic music? Sure, but it has to be about futuristic robots beheading each other with laser gauntlets in a neon-lit post-apocalyptic urban nightmare. Classic rock? Maybe, but is it sung by a Japanese band whose members can barely speak any English yet insist on writing lyrics in the same language? Industrial? All for it, as long as it's produced using actual industrial machinery (looks like I forgot to write about Author&Punisher and GOG). Pop music? Sounds great, but it has to be weird and noisy, with lyrics that read like Juno's personal diary. 

Hip hop ain't much different - actually, no, it has to be for me to even touch it. There's nothing especially interesting to me about regular gangsta rap or shitty MTV glossy rap. I don't even like Kanye West. No, my favorite hip-hop acts are weird, cutting edge artists that have dedicated their lives to reinventing an entire genre, smashing its tropes and making it fascinating again. Below are 3 of 2014's hip-hop albums which are mandatory listens. Incidentally, these artists are also able to bring Marco and I together for awkward white guy hip-hop dancing, much to the collective embarrassment of anyone around us. TURN DAT SHIT UP.

Clipping have merged two genres which I never imagined would come together: hip-hop and noise. Good news is, they're both expertly done. Under the appearance of a smooth, technically flawless delivery, this dude is spitting out lyrics about chopping hands off, sitting on the porch of your ghetto place shooting motherfuckers for looking at your daughter the wrong way and dancing around in a night club until you're thrown out on the curb. The rapping is then laid out on a nail bed of harsh, abrasive noise, sounds of shattering glass, crashing cars, crumbling bricks and drilling machines. No, I mean it, these dudes have manages to construct hip-hop beats out of random noises and it's the most badass thing ever. They even have one song where the MC raps over a digital alarm clock. You know the noise that has plagued your childhood mornings and possibly even your shitty adulthood? These guys have taken it, subdued it and made it their bitch. They have curb-stomped hip-hop, cut it up and now they're wearing its bloody skin and parading around the hood. Either hide forever or come out in submission, because hip-hop can never be the same again. IT'S CLIPPING BITCH.

Death Grips are the de facto terrorists of the hip-hop scene, blowing up its conventions and mutating it into something gruesome and fascinating to hear. They're big favorites of the TZEEEAC crew since they started out and we were surprised, just like everyone else, when Death Grips dropped another unannounced album earlier this year. I wasn't surprised, though, to find out it's even more fucked up and pushes even more boundaries than their previous efforts. Niggas on the moon is their most schizophrenic album to date. MC Ride's lyrics are as abstract as I've come to expect and he sounds like he's legit mentally ill (in a good way?), and the beats he lays his vocal tracks over are crude concoctions of little bits of noise, static, primitive drum licks and chopped up glitch samples of Bjork's vocals. Yes, that Bjork. She said she's excited that Death Grips decided to use her voice throughout this album and so should you. This is Death Grips at their most creative and they have made sure they will be remembered as such - they have decided to call it quits while they're in their prime. After a short musical career full of publicity stunts, deliberately missing concerts and just generally fucking with their fans every which way, Death Grips disbanding with no warning and literally announcing it via a note on a dirty napkin is so part of their modus operandi that I'm not even upset or disappointed. I was in on it the whole time. I do what my people would.

Finally, here’s one from our own Romanian cesspool, the enigmatic bros known as frateleNORD. They started off as a pretty tame experimental hip-hop duo, albeit with a very recognizable, stream-of-consciousness type lyrical approach. These days, I don’t know what the fuck they’re doing. Their latest album is 33 tracks of hermetic, backstreet philosopher, drug-induced gangsta rap that will throw you off the loop. Simple but effective beats lay the groundwork for Cleg’s abstract, often surreal lyrics that will be forever lost on me. I have no idea what he’s talking about and I’m fine with that. The music is so damn enjoyable, perfectly fit for walking around the city at night, while taxis whiz by you, that I really don’t care that I might not “get it”. For all I know, there is nothing more beneath the surface, so why try digging up meanings that might not even be there? !

August 6, 2014

Enabler - La Fin Absolute du Monde (2014)

Gonna keep this very short because I'm busy tonight, but I've been jamming this every day this week and it's the shit. Basically, Milwaukee's Enabler play a vitriolic blend of hardcore punk and grindcore with some pretty obvious nods to thrash metal here and there - and they somehow manage to make it sound fresh and exciting. La Fin Absolute du Monde is the latest album in their already impressive discography and it strikes the perfect balance between melody, groove and heaviness. It's fast, violent, majorly pissed-off, dissonant and will splatter your brains across the wall with its sheer aggression. Perfect match between puke-your-guts-out vocals and brilliant guitar work, with some oddly restrained drumming. If New Life doesn't have you ripping your clothes off, destroying your fucking room in anger, going to your local government branch and just starting to punch everyone there, you are dead inside.

August 3, 2014

SHOW REVIEW: Sam Evans Band

Following a time frame that included sore muscles, a rather self induced back injury, fever, inability to speak properly due to an inflicted laziness of the vocal chords, I somehow managed to crawl into a local pub (during one of my better days) and attend a show ran by these fine gentlemen here. 

Apparently it wasn't their first time in Romania, as they've previously recorded a record on our beloved wonderlands and even given it a romanian title. What music they play, you ask? Well, as themselves describe it, it's a mix-up with elements taken from Jazz, Soul, Blues and Reggae. They sometimes play acoustic, sometimes electric, but it seems to me that no matter what the style, their songs sound just as great.

That's because they're the type of people that were simply born to write and perform music and while they share very young ages, their souls are unmistakingly old (and I say that in a good way). The music is passionate and delicate at the same time, technically proficient, with actual (and great) lyrics, and most of all they can relate to the crowd. I don't know exactly if Sam's voice was affected that night, but he had that raspy tone only a two-pack-of-cigars-per-day-smoker-twenty-years-down-the-line could have, which suited the compositions immensely. And dare I say, they have one song that I bet Sting himself would wish he'd have written: it's called 'How we should be loved', it's found on their CD's and they also played it live (I couldn't find it on Youtube, but it's present on their official page).

What I can give you are two of the better suited audio recordings out there and you can hear for yourselves what the gig is about, or you can switch directly to for some high fidelity stuff (and I highly recommend you look up 'How we should be loved').

P.S: One could not leave their show without purchasing not one, not two, but four of their CD's! Great stuff guys, hope to hear from you again next year, and hope you don't mind that I stole one of your pictures for this review :). 

Other useful links for you all:

August 2, 2014

HIGH SPIRITS "You Are Here" LP (2014)

HIGH SPIRITS is just about one of the most unique heavy metal bands hitting it right now, in 2014. To say that they play 80s high energy rock would be a crass understatement, as you would probably say "bah! just another retro act! they come by the dozen". You couldn't be more wrong, as these Chicago swingers, commanded by the Mozart of headbangers, Prof. Chris Black (SUPERCHRIST, DAWNBRINGER, PHARAOH) manage to play no-fills all-chills heavy metal the way it was intended to be played and make it sound like it was played from the heart, not from the costume.

After a series of demos, there came the debut "Another Night" LP (2011), which was just about the best album released in 2011, back to back with swedes GRAVEYARD's "Hisingen Blues". It was the heavy metal dream come true, sounding out of this world all thanks to mastermind Chris B. 

"You Are Here", to put it simply, is just more of the same, but not necessarily in a bad way. It doesn't feel like HIGH SPIRITS are trying to top their own game, they just stick to the formula that made them what they are: harmonic guitars, the superb vocals and the melody in itself. The only thing that makes this album not be better than "Another Night" is that "Another Night" sounded very fresh to me when I first heard it, it had its own sound very well crafted. "You Are Here" is just like that, minus some memorable choruses and melodies, but it really lacks in the fact that it's all been heard before, it doesn't really bring anything new to the table. I really enjoy it but, again, it's more of the same.

I really wished for this album to blow me away like the first one did, but I can't complain, because it still is a very well crafted piece of music, yet it needs a couple of replays for it to get on your good side.