Get into that Christmas cheer with DMX // Listen Here – Spotify
Wu-Tang Clan is one of the most influential and relevant rap groups in Hip-Hop History. The all star team that came together at one time to launch a global takeover was inspirational for music, and there is not a person on the planet that does not know what “C.R.E.A.M.” means. Ghostface Killah took that first stepping stone and transformed that into a solo career where he would become successful with collaborations, remixes, and lyricism that would shake the foundation of hip-hop once again.
The 2001 release, Bulletproof Wallets (Feat. Raekwon) was a smooth transition for Ghostface fans as the artist never really seemed to stop with music through his own albums or through features. Ghost is an instantly recognizable voice in hip-hop that has a grumble, but pronounced lyrical style. The exhibition match of producers that Ghostface Killah uses is like a squadron of bruisers, from RZA, to Mathematics, to The Alchemist, there is more than enough talent to create a whirlwind of instrumentals. With the opening skit, then being moved into “Maxine”; an extremely funky, but head-knocking instrumental that is illuminated through Ghost’s delivery. The production from RZA and the feature from Raekwon continues to boost Ghostface’s own style of lyricism and the productions on Bulletproof Wallets are synonymous.
There are no real sides of ugliness behind the instruments present and the sampling done to achieve some of the production is engaging through the wide range of depth presented. Surprising from the Iron Man comes the real ferocity behind his vocals rather than the instrumentals, especially when reaching the track, “Flowers”. Ghostface Killah explains, “Bulletproof Wallets, 20 G kitchen sets made out of Korea. Top sear, gots to be a lots to see a rocks… Peace, hate to be ya, especially when them shots ring off in slow motion when yo head hit the meter. You lost two liters, at the same case speeder”. He is aggressive, but never in a way that overshadows the instrumentals or in a way that is brutish.
Ghostface is still able to show a sense of humor behind his lyrics as well and as he reaches “Ghost Showers”, he can let loose and bring back some of that chest-out rap. He explains, “Star-spangled up and my chain got cuts, Mr. T looked, saw my shit and went nuts. Stark stays in luck, truck, there’s a new gangster in town and he’s coming up”. His charismatic nature is the best thing behind Ghostface Killah’s Bulletproof Wallets. It is the sense of illustration and ability to rhyme while keeping his face in a straight, never-cracked demeanor. This is also with the work of one of the hottest beats on Bulletproof Wallets, the track “The Forest” which takes a sample from The Wonderful World of Disney that flutters and springs Ghost into action without a missed step. It is a perfect strut of boom-bap styling that has Ghost murdering the instrumental without mercy as he delivers nearly three-minutes of straight lyrics.
Ghostface’s Bulletproof Wallets is a standout for the production that mixes entirely too well with the lyrical style of both Ghost and of Raekwon who is present on four total tracks. It is a strange, almost dated adventure that holds up so well and still inspires to this day. The output that Ghostface Killah brings to the table is something that he has been able to present and his final charismatic nature is still a joy to hear even sixteen-years later.
The long, droning noise that comes from Horseback is similar in style to what the darkness of the large pines at night would bring. It is the interpretation of mystery that is extended from Horseback’s full, but raspy sense of approach that delivers organized and understandable style. While the 2010 release, The Invisible Mountain is never deafening, it does show potential to be an overbearing monster of fragmented features.
The record opens with a chant-esque, tribal rationality of “Invokation”, a track that borders on the lines of becoming a building Karma to Burn tribute, and the blurred lines of a mountainous climb. It contains a sense of immense droning sound that lingers throughout the near seven-minute journey that reflects as a mirror upon the rust that is layered deep over the production. Though the ominous wood chimes show a real protest of charm, the primary instrumental is rough and off-putting. It takes little time to illustrate the conveyer belts of savagery that is pushed through the percussion, but primarily through the voice that is overlaid that sounds more like a creature of the night than anything human. The twisted features of the beast are present throughout and can display a larger sense of predatory style. Horseback continues this style as it begins to move onto “Tyrant Symmetry”, where the fuzz and heavily reverbed guitar begins to loop as a backing track to the cymbal-heavy percussion and the foreground guitar that shines through a charismatic glimmer.
It is also through “Tyrant Symmetry” is there a disconnect of the trance style that was laid out before, and is there a bigger focus on creating a more-loose adaptation of the sound. Horseback is progressively violent through The Invisible Mountain, but still has a sense of being able to showcase immense understandability as well. The production of the record is displayed through the simmering percussion that acts as a conduit for the lo-fi recording of the guitars and the near-endless track styling. As The Invisible Mountain continues, the journey becomes a dance with death; a slow waltz that tilts on being a graceful set of movements that eventually lead to the final track, “Hatecloud Dissolving Into Nothing”.
While also the longest of the tracks present, “Hatecloud Dissolving Into Nothing” is also the most significant as it creates the largest changes of stance from Horseback. The opening is a subtle, introductory scent of foreboding glory as the shift into these rising and settling moments where the atmosphere takes full control is incredible. There are moments on The Invisible Mountain where Horseback is a transforming piece that sits a top a ridge overseeing a valley far below. The clouds where the final moments sit is breathtaking and awe-inspiring; while the journey is treacherous.
There is the constant dichotomy between the overarching sound of The Invisible Mountain as it is able to both create and destroy. It can build, but also destruct, all through the power of sound. It is impressive and worthwhile, but also rusted and maniacal. The shifting environment conflicts, but ultimately aids in the final project. The Invisible Mountain is grand in presentation and stays true to the fertility of nature.
Both The Body and Full Of Hell have been featured for their ability to create these obliterating masterpieces of sound that build upon the layering of bone destroying noise. From Chip King’s shrilled voice that while rough to the ears, is an essential tool for The Body’s style. Or to Full Of Hell’s Dave Bland who smashes away with the firing percussion; the two groups move well together and create not only a wall of sound, but a punch through sound itself.
Their newest collaborative effort, Ascending a Mountain of Heavy Light is damaging, it is repulsive to the ears and is a beacon of systematic chaos. The conflicting nature of the record has these moments of almost stuffed beauty where the backing noise can show a moment of harmony before the tidal wave of sound comes flooding into frame. The rampaging howls of vocals and the clicking hi-hats, or the cascading synths, or even the kicking bass drums are just fantastic here, but are ultimately tools of torture. These moments where the twisted and mangled frame of The Body and Full Of Hell are near-demonic, but enticing in a sinister way. It feels as though every nightmare has crawled out of the depths for a rumbling assault of sound that opens with, “Light Penetrates”. An incredibly synthetic and android-esque instrumental that scrubs through the backing of the track, which is then the flowing method of Ascending a Mountain of Heavy Light. The final moments of the track are a scrambled wreck of horns, strings, percussion, and vocals that are a sporadic jump through fire where it is hard to gauge a real sense of rhythm behind the performance.
The record is unbelievably angry, showing little remorse for the listener as they are dragged through these moments of agonizing high-pitched computer noises, or the pounding that is attached to both Full of Hell’s and The Body’s style of play. Their previous records combine every sense of emotional attachment and create an industrial masterpiece that is primarily halted behind methods of slowed, but abrasive approaches. The track “The King Laid Bare” that has this disgusting, metallic layering over-top and the constricting, near isolated vocals of Chip King create a new breed of heaviness. The sound is a conflicted monster that reigns and continues onto “Didn’t the Night End”. A similar, but uglier jump off the manufactured deep end.
Ascending a Mountain of Heavy Light is a solid introduction from both Full Of Hell and The Body to a new listener as it combines both brunt forces of the two groups of artists into one singular entity. It takes the heavily distorted dystopia from The Body, but also the endless attack that is Full Of Hell. The two combine to create a deadly powerhouse that shows more symbols of being interesting through togetherness, instead of pursuing their own individual style. The collaboration shows the most sinister styles of both groups and really hunkers down behind that shield of sound.
The last act which features, “Master’s Story”, “Farewell, Man”, and “I Did Not Want to Love You So” takes a similar approach into how the noise is compiled, but the three tracks branch off and become more devious than the last. It is the rough white noise that segues into “Farewell, Man”, a track that is more similar to Full Of Hell but combines the crushing bass of The Body to create this devilish hand-in-hand walk into despair. The final track, “I Did Not Want to Love You So” is equally as crushing and as disturbing to listen to as the rest, but the reverb and screams make this track stand-out.
Ascending a Mountain of Heavy Light is simply put, brutal. It destroys the listener and makes their ears writhe in pain and beg for mercy. There are moments here that take the noise to an unimaginable level, but is then cranked up once more. Nothing can prepare you for the rough, and unloving nature of The Body and Full of Hell.
Tommy is an international sensation that would propel the British rock band, The Who into unknown ages of fame where their music would become a household name. The story that would grip audiences without their knowledge was the story of Tommy, a loose adaptation on a deaf, dumb, and blind boy who would become the catalyst for The Who’s strange, but prolific journey. Tommy was a record that stood out for its ability to take on the serious topics of molestation, drug abuse, and religion in a subtle manner that is entertaining, but also taps into an emotional chord as well.
There is an aura behind Tommy that The Who uses as an inviting shine with the immaculate production and instrumentation behind the record, that has this glossed feel behind it. There is however, a large amount of grime underneath the surface of Tommy that is incredibly personal. It begins with the sullen, but iconic “Overture” that uses Roger Daltrey to explain the synopsis and origins of the character Tommy, “Captain Walker didn’t come home, his unborn child will never know him. Believe him missing with a number of men, don’t expect to see him again”. It sets a tone behind the fluttering guitar that Pete Townshend plays masterfully, but also John Entwistle on the bass and French horn is simply stunning at points of Tommy. Then of course there is Keith Moon who plays the percussion like a lead guitar and does a beautiful job of never overpowering the music, but creating these fills and rhythm sections where the percussion is a magnificent display of the adaptability behind Keith Moon.
Tommy does best as a visual album that is listened to as a sensory adventure that takes the entirety of the sound into account. The tracks that create these moments are “Amazing Journey”, “Sparks”, or “1921” that throws these vivid images of the the near angelic instrumentation that works incredibly well for The Who as they take these leaps and bounds into territory of a “Rock Opera”. The band is seemingly without fear though, as Tommy is an overall striking album that displays adversity through sound and can create these moments of bliss behind the music. Especially as the second act of the double record brings itself to the foreground where tracks like, “Pinball Wizard”, “Go To The Mirror!”, or even “Sally Simpson” that can capture the raw emotional attachment that The Who had throughout the recording of Tommy.
The Who showed a new potential with Tommy that was able to illustrate a sense of real story behind their music. This was the first album that catapulted them into certified double platinum in America, there was also for the most part, positive critical reception to the album. The Who looked like it had finally been able to find a profound success and voice of their own that stood them among the greats for sound and production. There are moments in Tommy that outshine for the way that it can bury itself deep in the emotional pull of the listener and create an atmosphere where creativity can flow perfectly.
The final moments of Tommy are just as intriguing as the opening; it never feels like it is forced or overpowering. The emotion of the album washes over the listener and stands tall for the way it can combine incredible sound with the storyboard. The Who’s Tommy still holds up today and is a piece of history with a backstory.
He really is a nice guy in person // Listen/Watch Here – Youtube
Directed : William Child
Produced: Ethereal Original
Executive Produced: Stevie B
Another artist from Pittsburgh that is a bit out of my own personal taste, but shows the makings of a profound artist.
BandCamp pulls through // Listen Here – BandCamp