Tuesday, 22 December 2009

El-P - Fantastic Damage

This is one of my all time favourite albums. It's about as heavy and psychedelic as hip hop can get without imploding, and is definitely not one for hip-hop conservatives, seeing as very little of the instrumentation is made from soul/funk samples, but instead is created by El-p with synths, samples and drum machines. It's the arrangements and mix that make this so excellent, and such a head trip. The opening line sets the scene: a distorted synth, with a slightly chipmunked voice reciting some cheesy but somehow ominous lines of poetry. The remainder of this track is pretty sparse, martial distorted beats and scratches allow the lyrical manifesto to be promulgated with little audio interference, and it's only as it fades into 'Squeegee Man Shooting' that the musical blueprint for the rest of the album is revealed - a tapestry of wah-scratching that peaks almost into a 303 line halfway through; piano arpeggios; driving bass; searing phased synth drones - all backing a relentless stream of vocal which is often cut up, overlaid and delayed. It's definitely a heady and intense mix, one that doesn't let up. The listeners brain is equally divided between the rapping and the music, and the weird pitched-down vocal echoes that weave around the mix fall halfway between the two, making fora disorientating but hugely satisfying listen. This is taken to extremes on what is probably my favourite track, the very weird and fabulous 'Dead Disnee', which is a real brain odyssey. The density of this music means these tracks still blow me away many many listens down the line; the apocalyptic, claustrophobic vibe, and exhilarating swarms of noise and clusters of words that drift in and out of my conscious hearing...makes my sentence construction deteriorate.
An awesome album.

1 comment:

CosmicFugue said...

very sad that this link got taken down. mediafire is hindering access to excellent music. el-p is an unreal artist.