Monday, May 12, 2014

Octagon IV

Aaahhh... the final (?) chapter in the Dr. Octagon quadrilogy - a direct response to the hack-and-slash production of The Return Of... a year before. With original Dooom producer KutMasta Kurt back at the helm, Kool Keith resurrects his other psychotic surgeon to finally "put the clamp" on his alter ego and be done with the strange mess the Dr. Octagon character created. The introspective "R.I.P. Dr. Octagon" isn't some token hip-hop song, it's a completely pissed-off dismissal of the whole persona tinged with anger, regret and general fucking irritation at the music industry. It's direct and to the point, Keith unapologetically drops names and labels with a refreshing snicker. He's just as surprised to see the monster he created and only happy enough to kill him off - the recording of Dr. Dooom 2 must have been insanely cathartic. As far as the other music on the album, it picks up right where First Come, First Served left off, minimalist downbeats accompanying sweetly gruesome rhymes. The themes are familiar: the stalker anthem "I Followed You", murder, violence, shitty deadbeat life in the ghetto, you name it. There's a humorous intro entitled "Simon" as well, a scathing attack on American Idol and its cocksure ringleader. I'd love to see someone try to qualify next season with that...

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Octagon III

After a nearly 10-year hiatus, Dr. Octagon finally arose from the dead, albeit on an album significantly different in style and creation from the original. The project began in 2002, Kool Keith partnered with unknown producer Fanatik J, hoping to replicate the debut gold discovered with Dan "The Automator" Nakamura on Dr. Octagonecologyst years before. Unfortunately lightning did not strike twice - Keith and Fanatik split after a year due to contract disputes. The album was shelved until rights were sold to the production trio of One-Watt Sun, who completely rebuilt the album and removed any involvement Fanatik J had in its creation. By this point Kool Keith was barely involved in the project - he recorded vocals for only three songs (not ironically, the 3 best on the record) and sent in some lyric outtakes from years past - giving the producers the green light to edit them in as they found fit. The result? Well, it isn't terrible but if you expecting a cut-and-dry Dr. Octagonecologyst II you'll be disappointed. The beats are odd European-styled house grooves, not the laid back funk you'd expect from most of Keith's catalog. It works OK and there's evidently a whole back story throughout the record for those who want to decipher the lyrics line by line. My favorite track is the trippy scratch ditty "Jumpstart" which is probably the closest sounding thing to Octagon's first record. Worth a listen just because, hey, it's Kool Keith but not for much else.

Friday, May 9, 2014

Octagon II

With a Photoshop 4.0 cover like that you know you're in for something special. 32 seconds into First Come, First Served Dr. Octagon is murdered by a new nemesis, the cannibalistic serial killer Dr. Dooom. Kool Keith serves up another epic 70 minutes of fucked-up horror-laced hip-hop (it's too tripped out to simply call it "horrorcore") under a new alias. As fare as the production - it's a worthwhile attempt to replicate the sound of Dr. Octagonecologyst by new producer KutMasta Kurt. At times some of the beats sound a little thin but all in all it's solid. "Neighbors Next Door" and "Side Line" are personal faves. Enjoy.

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Octagon I

Man, Kool Keith is one fucking cool motherfucker. While other rappers were busy milking what was left of the weed bandwagon or trying to steal what scraps they could from 2Pac, Keith Thorton went against the grain and created a coolly fucked-up alter ego which had more in common with a 1960's Corman B-movie than what Jay-Z was quickly turning hip hop into. Having left the Ultramagnetic MC's a year earlier, one would assume Keith would follow in the footsteps of almost every other  newly solo rapper with a overly self-aggrandizing debut. Instead he did the absolute opposite - he hid behind the facade of an extraterrestrial time-traveling gynecologist, recruited scratch extraordinaire DJ Qbert and an unknown producer named Dan Nakamura (who would later gain fame working for the Gorillaz). The result is a trip-hop classic - nearly 20 years old and barely aged a day. Keith's rhymes are just as quasi-non-linear and fucked up as ever - delivered in that strangely smooth style of his (the American version of Slick Rick) while the beats are fresh and completely original. Think back to the first time you heard "Blue Flowers" and realized the guy was a fucking genius. Essential.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Influences: Jalapeno Diarrhea Pain

Mildly witty band name aside, there's nothing wholly original from Finland's Brutanal other than the fact that there are a fucking ton of lyrics. Jesus - it seems like the guy never stops talking! I usually take my brutal death metal done by the books with a minimum of token gurgles and "ree's" - it seems like vocalist/guitarist Sir Josif Brutanal is determined to confess his manifesto in the most intricate detail possible. Sucks that I don't understand Finnish - the distortion is restrained just enough that you could probably make out what he is saying if you could speak the dialect. Oh well. Regarding the music, it's pretty tame tongue-in-check death metal (especially the silly "Fuck Jazz") that is replete with thrashcore-esque solos that would make Jeff Hanneman proud. They actually remind me sound-wise of what Anal Nosorog eventually turned into... not that that comparison means anything to anyone. Who knows if these guys are still around, they have a (circa 2009) Facebook page as well as a download one here (which offers their retarded 2005 demo as well). Actually, their Facebook page is worth a look simply for the unintentionally hilarious bio - broken English and all. All I gotta say is it sounds like they have one fucking hell of a live show. Cheers.

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Verbal Message

Y'know, I never really got that in to 3rd Bass. Sure I pulled my Caucasian duty by buying The Cactus Cee/D when it dropped and did legitimately like "Gas Face" (thanks to the sweet lyrics from KMD's Zev Love X) and even "Steppin' To The A.M." to an extent (more due to the beats than the so-so lyrics) but all in all it wasn't really that great. "Brooklyn Queens"?!? Puke. Style-wise I really dug Prime Minister Pete Nice, M.C. Serch tended to get on my nerves - he was just too goofy and came off as sort of a dork. So when the Brooklyn duo eventually parted ways, I figured that was that, another failed white boy rap experiment bites the dust. M.C. Serch went ahead and released his forgettable solo effort Return Of The Product (solely notable for the pretty solid "Back To The Grill) while Pete Nice teamed up with 3rd Bass DJ Daddy Rich to produce Dust To Dust a year later. And what a surprise - a sadly underrated, fucking awesome album that clearly shows who the weak link of 3rd Bass was. The beats are solid - nearly every song is catchy in that stand-up bass House Of Pain Same As It Ever Was style. The record has a pretty dark vibe to it as well - a welcome change from the silliness of their previous band. Other than the token filler tracks (standard rap protocol for 1993) it is easily the best overall album any of the 3rd Bass guys were involved with. After the unjustafiably tepid response to the record, Nice went to Boston to open a fucking sweet ass sports bar in Boston with the Dropkick Murphy's bassist. Fuck yeah.

Saturday, May 3, 2014

Snail Trail

Adolf Satan's eponymous debut was a wicked awesome slurry of down-tuned sludgecore and frantic ranting by poet/madman Larry Lifeless; easily one of my favorite albums of the last ten years. Their three-song follow-up, 2007's Ooga Booga Cab Company had a tough act to follow but succeeds by being even more lo-fi and crazier than its predecessor. Self-produced, self-released and recorded on what sounds like a tape deck, Lifeless's manic depressive shrieking is is taken to another level on this one. The grooving sludge is there as well, much in the style of their full-length so if you like those kind of scale-progression power-chord punch-you-in-the-fucking-face riffs look no further. Enjoy.

Friday, May 2, 2014

K-Tel Days...

While my 10-year old cracker ass may not have had this exact record, I know it was some variation of this 1983 German K-tel compilation - complete with a "how-to" poster of breakdance moves and a tiny piece of fold-out cardboard to practice on. Needless to say, I absolutely fucking sucked at breakdancing and was relegated to doing such special needs fodder as "The Worm" behind everyone else during our ridiculous cul-de-sac performances. 30 years later my dancing skills have not improved in even the slightest but it's still great to listen to the proto-rap of the era, back when everyone rapped about having a good time and before anyone outside of L.A. knew what the fuck Compton was. My favorite track (thanks in no party to a pathetically unhealthy appreciation of Breakin' 2: Electric Booglaloo) is George Kranz's "Din Daa Daa" - an epic of cheesy Kraut rock that is as addictive as it is annoying. And that's not all the German hip-hop you get on this one, a here-today-gone-tomorrow trio named Reflexx offers the silly "Let's Kratz (A-Ja-I-Jo)" - a great snapshot of the strange Teutonic new wave (championed by Falco) coming out at the time. But they're not the only Europeans on this international release, Italy's Righeira offer the strange "Dinero Scratch" which sounds somewhat out of place here, and there's a forgettable French band (Bandolero) as well. A couple of Grandmaster Flash songs (including his classic "Whitelines") legitimize the whole thing and Whodini makes an appearance with "Rap Machine" and "Nasty Lady". You'll probably recognize "Let The Music Play" by Shannon as well. As with any K-Tel release though, there is a ton of unknown placeholder fluff. Some are underdog hits (the weirdly cute "(Hey You) The Rock Steady Crew" and cheerful "Breakdancing" - a token "keep trying, you'll get it" anthem to close the LP) while some are rather unlistenable (especially the aforementioned Bandolero) - their inclusion on a record you were supposed to "pop" and "lock" to is a little odd.

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Play More Music

Generally I try to keep politics on the sidelines with this blog. I personally do not give a fuck what people think or do as long as it doesn't get in the way of me or my life. But I especially don't care to have it shoved in my face with the token condescension of you typical activist know-it-all. With that being said, introducing the late-80's activist trio known as Consolidated. While their painfully persistent left-wing diatribes can grind the nerves after a while (I mean really, is there fucking anything they don't complain about?) the music is really fucking good. Mostly hip-hop with a slight industrial/electronic sound - the sampling and beats are absolutely off the hook. They vocals are reminiscent of Chuck D but are so pessimistic they make the Public Enemy frontman look positively pollyanna. It's no surprise the group recruited activist rapper Paris for guest vocals on "Guerillas In The Mist" - he fits perfectly with the group's "let me tell you how rich white men are fucking me over" vibe. Unfortunately that's my one gripe with the album - the vitriol is so interminable that it eventually just sounds like a bunch of pissed off teenagers bitching for the sake of bitching. Life ain't that fucking bad dudes, take a minute to smell the roses. Interestingly, the album is speckled with sound clips from their live shows in which audience members are encouraged to participate in praising or condemning the band (and all end up sounding like idiots). It's a pretty cool listen and was definitely ahead of its time. Enjoy.