Flatbush Zombies – 3001: A Laced Odyssey
From the beginning of their career, the Hip-Hop trio Flatbush Zombies were lumped into a movement. The ‘Beast Coast’ movement, which is a term loosely used in recent years to describe the rappers coming out of the East Coast, includes notable artists like 90s revivalists Pro Era (including Joey Bad$$) and the duo The Underachievers. Flatbush Zombies were the odd one out of the three groups, as well as being the underdogs. With one of the three Beast Coast groups being concerned with reviving Hip-Hop’s golden era, and the other exploring spirituality and duality (very well on their project ‘The Art Of Duality’), Flatbush Zombies took the path of being something psychedelic, twisted and confused.
Their sound is what carries them more than anything else with some incredibly sharp and inventive production from Erick Arc Elliot who takes the mic alongside the rappers Meechy Darko and Zombie Juice. The dynamic this trio have is a spectacle to marvel over as they each have very distinct styles that bounce off each other. All three rappers’ flows bounce off of each other so well even if their verses rarely interlink. They all have their own menacing angle, with Meechy’s ruffled voice in particular often sounding like a deranged man who has completely lost it. The other two don’t lack in charisma, and don’t let up on and it’s something that makes this project endlessly entertaining.
On previous mixtapes the production which features a mixture of live instrumentation and synthetic has rightfully been the focus on each project over the rapping itself. Erick Arc Elliot’s production has been consistently varied, with him drawing out long passages of music that are totally justified as he seamlessly blends Hip-Hop sub genres at times, always creating something artful. He has a knack for creating atmospheres that are hazy, yet theatrical and full.
Probably sensing that this could be a commercial break for their debut studio album, each rapper has made their presence far more interesting. Their cacophonous mix of hazy drug and sex references have been spiced up by throwing in moments of self-reflection that are sometimes compelling yet sometimes baffling. Fiction blends with the reality in Flatbush Zombies’ music making something that’s twisted yet grounded; braggadocios while simultaneously self-deprecating. Their debut album is never too deep, but at its best it’s a masterclass in style over substance, and it its worst it’s some of the most promising Hip-Hop coming out of NY.
Mmoths – Luneworks
The front cover of Electronic producer, Mmoths’ debut album ‘Luneworks’ has a small hazy picture of a woman sleeping with a blue hue surrounded by complete blackness; it’s like an attempt to obscure the natural beauty of seeing someone let go in their own subconscious. Mmoths’ sound can be characterised by moments of pure beauty that are completely surrounded by obscure effects that disturb it with the sounds that he creates, to the point where it sounds both stunning and haunting at the same time.
The album’s opening track,’You’ starts with inaudible soulful vocals surrounded by ominous synths, before everything slowly becomes disgruntled by a harsh resonant noise that takes over the track and beefs it up immeasurably. ‘You’ leads straight into ‘Deu’ which gives his sound a solid beat for him to play around with, as he adds and subtracts multiple different textures, and it’s all so frictionless. Throughout the album, Mmoths experiments with different instrumentals and textures ranging from luxurious keys, to electronics that sound less synthetic as they do like an orchestra filling up the spaces in his songs.
‘Luneworks’ is an appropriate name for this album, as the sounds on here are often nocturnal and lunar as they span out for long periods of time. Yet the music on here is disjointed by the fact that these soundscapes that Mmoths creates are broken up by the track listing being so scattered. The tracklist on here could be half the size had these songs been condensed from consistent two-part songs into just one fulfilled track. Yet part of the charm of this album is how disjointed it is while remaining overwhelming in its ability to punch you hard with its weight, much like the human brain does when it dreams.
Heron Oblivion – Heron Oblivion
Heron oblivion are Rock group consisting of vocalist Meg Baird as well as Ethan Miller and Noel Von Harmonson, all three of which previously played in one of the groups who sported an explosive psychedelic sound, Comets On Fire. Comets On Fire were part of a scene that was indebted to Vintage Physchedlia yet didn’t necessarily sound overly like they were imitating the sound. This new project sees them taking the sound of a scene they were once a part of, and making a more considered, delicate version of it.
The key to this bands’ sound comes in the interplay between guitarists as well as the chemistry between the vocals and guitars. The drums are merely there to hold rhythm never getting too complex, while the guitars will often go off on tangents or change in texture within often with one track, ranging from wah wah guitars, to grumbling ones, to acoustic.
Their guitar leads are as essential as the vocals are, with them often competing with the vocals for the strongest melody, which is evident from the opening track on here, ‘Beneath Fields’ where the most memorable moments come from the lurking guitars. There’s a stark contrast between Meg Baird’s angelic vocals when paired up against the often menacing musicianship of the rest of the group. On tracks like ‘Faro’ the vocals are being used alongside the guitars in such a way that’s reminiscent of how Kim deal would sound when she was in Pixies. Especially as when their musicality becomes more diverse in terms of texture as the album goes on, the band borrow from the underbelly of noisier music, creating songs that can at times capture the pure magic that vintage psychedelia holds for many people.