Monday, November 24, 2014

Left Handed Cypher 1.0 ft. The Real Clash, Direwood, Abstract Machine and more
Saturday, 15th November 2014
The Fuzz Factory, Gulfport, FL

Promised a night of left field, avant-garde and weird hip hop, I am confused when super friendly guy Rest in Satin Silence (RISS) announces he'll be kicking the night off with "bad hip hop."  Luckily RISS not only makes music that is left field, avant-garde, weird and good, it would turn out to be perhaps the most left field thing at this Left Handed Cypher event.  He kneels down calmly to record a loop of his own voice, slowly but steadily building up at just the right speed during a 20-minute set.  RISS churns his repeated self sample down to Aphex Twin terror levels, while at other times the scratchy, jerky darkness of the music is reminiscent of producer Burial.  This comparison is only strengthened by a tune where the word "bass" is repeated over and over.  The recordings work with then take a back seat to rapping as the set ends.  Not even the cat tail and ears that RISS is sporting (reminding me of my 9 - 5 in a party supply shop) make me think that the coming evening is going to be anything less than fun.

Somewhere online MC Figment says she will rap for bus fare, but tonight with Florida finally daring to get cold I distinctly hear her ask for a jacket from her car.  (A later disappointment being when I find out that I did not, in fact, see RISS on the 19 on the way to the gig).  Transport credentials aside, the St. Pete artist is from the more traditional realm of hip hop than the opener -- or at least as traditional as a white, female, nonsexualised act can be considered.  Figment's rock solid beats and great voice can be best heard on the Etta James/Pretty Lights/everyone-sampling/Flo Rida-smashing "Mrs Right," available for free download along with a handful of other songs at the link below.  The speed of her delivery is dizzying, but not overwhelming.  For a dose of conscious anger also check out "Contrabanned."

As he has before each act, promoter Michael Patrick Couling gives a brief introduction for Paco Escobar.   It's a nice touch that links the artists of the night together, and further helps to foster the community, underground feeling made possible at a warehouse venue like The Fuzz Factory.  Last-minute fill in Escobar, coming from Orlando, apparently does anime-themed hip hop.  Knowing next to nothing about anime I can't comment on how fun the content is, but it's something a bit different, and this dude's voice reminds me of Del the Funky Homosapien, which is no terrible thing.  I didn't know how to interpret his ode to the Razr and its association with 2006 as I fumbled with the flip phone in my pocket, but it seems like there was quite a lot I wasn't qualified to analyse during this set.  Are more people outside than inside merely to smoke, or are they not feeling this guy?  Personally put off by more than a few uses of the b-word, I wondered (once again) whether the closing track about being his "waifu" was pro-women or not.  Apparently it's an affectionate term for a fictional love interest.  Someone else can unpack that one.  

Cansouled also hails from Orlando.  He is the kind of admirably ego-fearing person whose music more than does the talking for him (see the beautifully downbeat "Midnight Dives").  He politely asks for patience while he takes breathers and drinks, such as sips of Newcastle Brown Ale, which is apparently "delicious piss".  On two occasions, Cansouled kills a track partway through ("fuck this track") because he believes he is not doing a decent job.  Even those partial songs sounded good to me, with their occasional rapid fire rapping and trance beats.  He blames his lack of preparation on having a child, in a non-malicious manner, of course.  In a victory for the bad in people over their nice instincts, Cansouled has his phone stolen at some time during the evening.  Maybe he can borrow an old Razr from Paco Escobar?  With a comforting musical style akin to some of the best conscious rappers of the past 15 years (Sage Francis, Yasiin Bey), it will be worth your time to listen to and download some of this material.

It's been a great night so far, but it needs some more weirdness, so when Abstract Machine steps forward in his suit, I wonder hopefully if there's going to be some Juice Rap News stylings.  Not exactly, as the suit is removed to reveal a shirt a la David Byrne, with synth and pop music to match, and a tad of RnB.  Mr. Machine is joined by his new brother partner Bay Sir on about 3 songs, adding rap to the mix.  If there's been a theme of being pro-high-tech tonight (almost everyone has had their own smartphone or laptop setup), and another theme of me being cynically 'phobic about it all, it reaches a height here with a series of acute pro-tools misplays.  The last act was abruptly ending his beats even when he wasn't cutting them short, but Abstract Machine fighting with his computer in between comically threatening any audience member who doesn't come to watch him takes the cake.  Still very enjoyable though.  

Compere Michael finally takes the microphone rather than just shouting introductions, but don't think he's without his own welcoming.  A line-up of incense and skulls, some of them sporting cigars and aviation goggles, are there at the front of the stage to set the tone.  Humour melded with a dead serious side is the order for Michael and DJ Hollow Life, collectively known as Direwood.  This is their 43rd gig and it shows.  If there's a nerdcore leaning here, it just means there's an abundance of influences from various mediums, hot beats chiptune and otherwise, and a self-awareness and awareness of hip hop that utterly keeps it real.  An audience request for "Wonderwall" gets denied because the Gallagher brothers are apparently dicks.  Lyrics "Get up stand up" become my 5th Bob Marley reference of the day, while the repeated line "EBT, yeah you know me" points out that the food stamp system is nothing if not naughty, nasty and crappy by nature.  

"Like the Black Eyed Peas if they didn't suck" are Michael's final words as we await gig closers The Real Clash.  While their singer Eliana "Voxx" Blanchard is unavailable for this performance, The Real Clash are just as good, experienced in adapting to their situation (though we might hope they stop short of adapting in the way the Peas did about 10 years ago).  They sound loud and brilliant in the confined space here, with funk, rock and rap all complementing one another.  Eat your heart out Body Count.  The funk is sent higher when Isaac "I-Sick" Reidt's bass strap breaks, sending him into a physically wild solo fury.  Uniting the people and fellow artists in the room who have stayed up this late vocalists Jay Acolyte and Shadcore step off the wood pallet stage during the last song and fuse their cacophony into the crowd.  Long having shed any status as a mere college band, TRC put the finishing touch on a satisfying evening.  The debut album Clash Wednesdays will be out March 3rd.  

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Notorious S.A.D.
Self-released, 2014


This 6-track EP is a golden nugget of wonderfun. At 4am when you're working overnights, exchanging Halloween tat for Christmas tat, blasting this downloadable slab into your lugholes is guaranteed to blow the spiderwebs off -- that's the metaphorical and the decorative kinds! DILF gets the working class seal of approval from all Notorious SADDOS, alternating between punk styles with the greatest of ease. Dude, I'm lost in the crazy part of my brain! Where's the sleep? Where's the telephone? Who cares, just get this free goodness while you can, you filthy dogmonsters! Time is nigh on your life, so fucking rock out, and get to Cuttin' Loose!