REVIEW: Loden’s “The Star Eyed Condition”

 photo LodenTSEC_cover_zps89a58f50.jpg The abstract samples and synths used on Belgian producer Loden’s The Star Eyed Condition (Circle Into Square/Fake Four Inc.) makes you feel like you’re jumping out of suspended animation and are finding yourself swimming in a pool or stutters. Whether it’s the warmth or the coolness of the water, you are comforted by the fact that it’s water, so you’re comfortable but unsure of where the current will take you. You close your eyes, open your ears, and wish for the best.

If the song that begins “About Busdriver With Colors” doesn’t sound like a urine stream on a Quonset hut, you’re not listening the way I am. Then the song gets thick and funky with Busdriver dropping lyrics about “vaginal lips underneath the leather soles” and blending that with seeing things with such vibrancy. As far as seeing, Ceschi finds himself in “Ceschi Is Seeing Straight” and moves into a direction that is anything but straight and/or narrow. Joëlle Lê, know for her work as Greetings From Tuskan and with Buck65 in their Bike For Three! project, gets a chance to work with a fellow Belgian and go gallivanting in a brilliant song that crosses language and music barriers. Hearing Doseone in “Future Confetti With Doseone” makes me long for what was cLOUDDEAD but he still retains his nerdiness, sarcasm, humor, and dopeness that has always made him who he is as an artist. The album wraps up with “A Letter To A Future Kid From Sole”, and if The Star Eyed Condition makes itself somewhat of an optimistic album, Sole’s track almost moves things in a pessimistic manner. As the title indicates, it’s a message to someone who is too young to be aware of the world, or someone who doesn’t exist yet, offering words of guidance on what to look out for in a big and scary world that will probably be smaller and scarier in the years ahead. He closes the song and the album with the lines ““My only advice is to catch the tone in my voice/and know the spirit lives on, even when it’s strangled and put in a box/you might think you’re alone, but I can assure you you’re not/it’s how everybody feels before a society cracks“. It is then that you realize this isn’t only a message to a future kid, but a goodbye letter to our past and everything it used to mean, when meaning meant something.

It is then when you realize The Star Eyed Condition is an album that is meant to be the optimism of a young child, starry eyed with nothing known but who gives him or her warmth and comfort. It is then you realize the album is the type of album that could not exist on a major label anymore, not with musical freedom being something old people used to do for shits and giggle. The idea that someone in rap music could get down in a non-hip-hop manner seems laughable, even though rappers are doing just that but are killing themselves inside for the paper chase that ends up chasing, biting, and killing them. The album is something that could only be done in electronic music, which tends to tear down walls as a mirror towards the walls being build by many. The Condition of those who are Star-Eyed leads one to wonder if it’s a condition that needs to be treated, or does doing things automatically make you a defect of the once cherished human condition? The sounds here are fun and danceable, but it leads to a moral that involves thought. Like the old song “Find The Cost Of Freedom”, a cost that was buried in the ground, if mother Earth swallows us, do we have to lay our bodies down or dust off the dirt and try to survive in something that seems better to not exist in? Music with thought can be a very good thing, maybe this will be the thought provoker.

http://bandcamp.com/EmbeddedPlayer/album=255663002/size=medium/bgcol=ffffff/linkcol=E08F44/transparent=true/
http://rcm-na.amazon-adsystem.com/e/cm?lt1=_blank&bc1=000000&IS2=1&bg1=FFFFFF&fc1=000000&lc1=0000FF&t=thisbosmu-20&o=1&p=8&l=as4&m=amazon&f=ifr&ref=ss_til&asins=B00E79FJ2Yhttp://rcm-na.amazon-adsystem.com/e/cm?lt1=_blank&bc1=000000&IS2=1&bg1=FFFFFF&fc1=000000&lc1=0000FF&t=thisbosmu-20&o=1&p=8&l=as4&m=amazon&f=ifr&ref=ss_til&asins=B00DJYKB0S

REVIEW: Factor’s “Woke Up Alone”

 photo Factor_cover_zps51789e39.jpg Personally, I never liked the term “alternative hip-hop”. Things at one time were just good and bad, then it became hardcore vs. everything else, and that “everything else” was considered weak. Then it became gangsta vs. everything else, and with that came East Coast vs. West Coast. While I respect originality in hip-hop, the genre classification seemed more about separation than making music for a common cause, or it became a matter of “my means is better than more”. These days, if you’re not a mainstream artist, you’re not a part of the spectrum, which means you’re going to be ignored and forever a niche, which I find to be bullshit. That may not be why Factor called his album Woke Up Alone (Fake Four Inc.), but with the cover image of a doll lying on a bed next to a coffin, one could say that it not only represents our fears of dying alone and rolling into a convenient grave, but what hip-hop has become in the last 15 years.

Parts of Woke Up Alone sounds very mainstream and could easily pass off as something that a group like Linkin Park would end up doing. Then you have a track featuring vocalist Jean Boots called “Carry Over” and it may sound like something you’d find on a Handsome Boy Modeling School or Lovage album, where you know it doesn’t belong but you figure “it’s music, why shouldn’t it belong?” “Give Up” has a well known break beat sped up and made more intense with the rap flows that seem as if it’s about to roll off the tracks, but never does. The bpm is faster than the norm, and while you almost expect for it to be smoothed out on the Teddy Riley R&B Big Daddy Kane tip, it is actually… funkier? Yes, it is funkier than the known/norm, and that’s good.

Woke Up Alone sounds like those varied hip-hop albums from the early to mid-90’s, when artists will willing to throw everything in the bag to see what came up, from weird and not-typical samples to ways of rhyming that may not be traditional, to the topics that were not about being on and on til the like break of dawn, or busting caps in asses. As the song goes, you could get with this or you could get with that, and while getting with this is beneficial, sometimes you want to turn the other way to see what you come up with, and that’s what Factor has done. He relied on the trusted formulas, but then added his own two cents until he realized he had a coin jar to throw on the table.

http://rcm-na.amazon-adsystem.com/e/cm?lt1=_blank&bc1=000000&IS2=1&bg1=FFFFFF&fc1=000000&lc1=0000FF&t=thisbosmu-20&o=1&p=8&l=as4&m=amazon&f=ifr&ref=ss_til&asins=B00D95B89Uhttp://rcm-na.amazon-adsystem.com/e/cm?lt1=_blank&bc1=000000&IS2=1&bg1=FFFFFF&fc1=000000&lc1=0000FF&t=thisbosmu-20&o=1&p=8&l=as4&m=amazon&f=ifr&ref=ss_til&asins=B00D78DXE2http://rcm-na.amazon-adsystem.com/e/cm?lt1=_blank&bc1=000000&IS2=1&bg1=FFFFFF&fc1=000000&lc1=0000FF&t=thisbosmu-20&o=1&p=8&l=as4&m=amazon&f=ifr&ref=ss_til&asins=B00DED3TUI

FREE DL: Loden’s “Ceschi Is Seeing Straight”

 photo Loden_cover_zpsf723bb6e.jpg
In preparation of his album due out in August called The Star-Eyed Condition, Loden is releasing a track called “Ceschi Is Seeing Straight”, called this because it features Ceschi Ramos. Yes, THAT Ceschi.

More will be coming from this project before the release date but until then, (g)listen to this.

http://bandcamp.com/EmbeddedPlayer/v=2/track=3724232662/size=venti/bgcol=ECC652/linkcol=57835B/

REVIEW: ESH The Monolith & Arc’s “Nightworks” (EP)

Esh The Monolith & Arc photo EshArc_cover_zps3779ec67.jpg With every project ESH The Monolith comes out with, it feels like you’ve been through a half marathon and you may feel exhausted and drenched. He does it again in this new collabrative EP with producer The Arcitype (b/k/a Arc), and as ESH says in “Hertz Donut”, “it hurts, don’t it?” Get it?

Nightworks is an EP featuring wicked lyrics done with a sick flow, written and performed by someone who does things as a supreme battle rapper, one who will continue to battle you even if he has won or lost the fight. Arc’s production is incredibly tight too, and with some help from Romen Rok, Fran-P, and Ceschi, this is a project that deserves a lot of attention. If these five songs do not result in a full length album, I don’t know. There must be more and if not, make more, gunfunnit.

http://bandcamp.com/EmbeddedPlayer/v=2/album=3781016323/size=venti/bgcol=000000/linkcol=D1B788/

REVIEW: Sixo’s “Free Floating Rationales”

Photobucket The term “alternative hip-hop” has been floating around since the early 90’s to describe the type of rap music that may not be hip or part of the current mainstream. Me’Shell NdegeOcello proudly said in the booklet of her 1993 debut album that “the alternative to hip-hop is silence”. It may sound big headed to think that, but while I know and understand the different variations of the music, sometimes all that is needed is simplification of what is heard, which may bring more people into hearing what is being presented. As Sixo, Scotty Trimble is someone who has done things differently in his career, although one has to wonder if it’s the music they’re listening to or the different MC’s that come across his tracks. Free Floating Rationales (Fake Four Inc.) is a mixture of tight instrumentals and vocalized tracks. On the vocal size, if you like the works from the Anticon crew, cLOUDDEAD, Reaching Quiet, Wordburglar, or Jesse Dangerously, these tracks will definitely be pleasing to you as they are funky, quirky, and nerdy when they have to be. Ceschi and Hologram Dagger contribute to “Blind Coats” and the sound could have easily been something from the Latryx catalog. The superfresh LEIF (kolt) gets deep and dope with the very nice “Rocker John” and as for the Anticon influnce, my online godfather Sole supplies some words of wisdom in “Government Bonds”, continuing on fighting the good fight he has done over the years to let people know about the deceit being passed to the general public as being “for the people”. Moka Only delivers a bag with some unknown substances to Sixo and comes up with “Paper Pathway”, and anyone who has been a Moka fan will not be let down by this track. The instrumentals here could… no, should be taken by many of today’s top notch MC’s and turned into some great music. Just make sure Sixo gets paid for it, okay?

Sixo: one of my favorite producers out now, teaming up with MC’s who are some of my favorite rappers of the last few years. This may very well be your hip-hop dream lineup and if it isn’t, reconsider your agenda. This is just damn good music, and while the hip-hop Illuminati might cry blasphemy because they feel this style of music is Illuminati to hip-hop, all I can say is fuck them. This album is far better than the constipated shit that’s stuck up the industry’s anus and being passed off as the real shit. Yeah, it’s shit alright, but not this.

http://rcm.amazon.com/e/cm?lt1=_blank&bc1=000000&IS2=1&bg1=FFFFFF&fc1=000000&lc1=0000FF&t=thisbosmu-20&o=1&p=8&l=as4&m=amazon&f=ifr&ref=ss_til&asins=B007SNUY1Whttp://rcm.amazon.com/e/cm?lt1=_blank&bc1=000000&IS2=1&bg1=FFFFFF&fc1=000000&lc1=0000FF&t=thisbosmu-20&o=1&p=8&l=as4&m=amazon&f=ifr&ref=ss_til&asins=B007FDQ9ZA

RECORD CRACK: Ceschi releases songs as vinyl postcards

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If you’ve been a record collector for a decent amount of time, you have probably heard about Poland releasing records as postcards (here are some examples. The concept has been revived in 2010 by Ceschi, who has released the 3-postcard/record Postcard Package (Equinox). Each postcard features one song, so you’re getting a 3-song EP in the form of a set of vinyl postcards. The tracks were produced by DJ Scientist, with the artwork done by The Raincoatman.

To make it even more interesting, the EP will not be made available anywhere else, no digital release, no compact disc. More? Well, not too much more, since only 25 copies will be made. You can find out more about the set and see photos of the complete package by clicking here.

While record/soundsheet postcards are nothing new, for younger generations and to most Americans and non-vinyl junkies it is. One hopes more artists and labels will continue to release interesting projects/concepts like this one.

(Mahalo to Lauren Muneoka of Asita Recordings for the tip. Asita has recently released two 45rpm singles of the hip-hop variety, which you can read more about here and there.)