Super Intelligent Common Sense
This is one that's close to my stereo at all times right now. Asthmatic Astronaut has been a main player in several bands over the years, and has produced material as a solo artist and as a producer and remixer for other artists, releasing on Tru Thoughts, Cymatics:Rec, Dejine.Rec. and our own Black Lantern Music. Super Intelligent Common Sense is a full album, twelve tracks in all, and has no input from other artists - it is a labour of love which DJ AA has striven hard to make as personal and as distinctive as possible. The effort he has put in pays off and then some. He has crafted a musically rich and coherent collection of abstract hip-hop, referencing electro, trip-hop, ambient, soul, dub and jazz, without ever compromising the record's unifying feel and sound. One element that he uses to bring all of the rhythmic and melodic influences together is an ever-present, deeply textured bass. Even softer tracks like the syncopated Summer Monkeys have serious weight, something that becomes even more apparent when watching AA perform live, and when listening through a system with serious sub-bass. Considerable attention has been lavished on this album's bottom end, but the rest of it has a beautifully warm, polished sheen to it as well - SICS is immaculately well produced. The horns of Show Me This Perfection have a dusty timelessness that sits delicately alongside the phased, electronic counterpoint. The heavy throb of Playin is contrasted by a rising organ line and crisp hi-hats and kicks. Some Sugar pulses and throbs with 2-step synths, accompanied by an insistent broken beat. The dubstep influence emerges slightly further on the blissed-out psychedelic garage of Almost There, while the woozy, backwards-looped sway of Which Way take it back to hip-hop again. Just to dispel any notions of journalistic bias, I have been a fan of Asthmatic Astronaut for longer than I've been his friend and collaborator - you should go and buy this album now, because it's absolutely brilliant, pure and simple.
Dead Geoff & Mister Thumbs
[Purple Bird Music]
The more I keep bumping this 4-track EP, the more I enjoy it. Maybe it's the fusion of nerdcore themes with glitch-heavy, electro bass and synths on the infectious Friday Night Loser, or the impressively freaked-out science fiction poetry of the hyperactive Renoise, but it seems to me that this Vermont-hailing, Brooklyn-based duo are on to something very interesting here. Even self-consciously poptastic tracks like Quarter Life Crisis, whose R&B chorus and loping beat might sound crass in less skilled hands, have a skewed appeal. Dead Geoff and Mister Thumbs handle pop hooks deftly, and their lyrics flip between witty directness and complex estoerica with a likeabley schizophrenic wobble. Like a hyperactive Cool Kids raised on ritalin, this EP will lodge pleasingly in your hindbrain, making you grin like an idiot at innoportune moments.
That's all for now... more next week!