The dreamy, almost shattered perspective that King Krule paints in his now third studio record, The OOZ takes on an almost timeless sound that morphs the line between dystopia and real-life. The record is beautifully produced, featuring some of Archy Marshall’s finest work to date; while nearly hopeless at moments, The OOZ is a relatable rainy day that pours over the listener in a gentle shower.
The OOZ is a long, and daunting release of nineteen-tracks that spans a total of just little over an hour. The title is fitting as Marshall’s journey is one that is full of crawling and sticky production that really makes his proper English vocals, as well as the mix of saxophones, strings, and experimental percussion create an eventful hour of unforgettable tunes. The jump into the lake with “Biscuit Town” is much deeper than first anticipated with isolated lyrics that Marshall describes, “You’re shallow waters, I’m the deep sea-bed and I’m the reason you flow”. There is a level of class behind King Krule’s style that reverts back to the mud-stricken streets of England, an instant image of dirty streets and back-alley creeps flood the mind of the listener as Krule’s band plays primarily laidback, but still heavy mixes of jazz and glam rock through The OOZ. It is a strange mix-up of production, but The OOZ can be just as horrifying as it is beautiful.
In the following track, “The Locomotive”; Krule is still distant with his lyrical style, but the raw emotion that shines in the lights of his eyes is grasping and glorifying. The production is made of slow, but melodic creeps of sporadic sounds that flood the spacious area, painting mass images of dead forests and empty train stations. This is where Krule is most familiar however, as he describes, “I’m alone, I’m alone, in deep isolation. In the dead of night, in the dead of night. Waiting for the train, in the dead of night, I howl. We all have our evils; we’re told just to keep calm”. Krule has a storytelling element and seguing power behind his music that makes The OOZ feel as magnificent as possible, but still keeps that underbelly of rust that complements well with most of the tracks present on The OOZ.
“Dum Surfer” was one of the singles released off the album that accompanied with a video and was something that had been a shock to the system with how gritty, but catchy the track was. It is incredibly foreboding to The OOZ and creates a real sense of dance style behind the usual creeping style of Krule. It is much faster and features some of the larger uses of upbeat styling, but “Dum Surfer” has these moments that are just fantastic as the track reaches one of the final climaxes and uses a bright saxophone solo to transition in almost a dualistic statement with the rest of The OOZ. King Krule has always managed to challenge the sound and boundaries with each of his releases, but with The OOZ, Krule is approachable but still has that level of steel behind his tracks that cut deeper than before.
On around the midpoint of the album, “Cadet Limbo” comes stumbling in and takes a focus on the atmospheric sound of Marshall’s voice and his saxophones behind him. The saxophone on The OOZ played by Ignacio Czornogas is simply stunning, he captures the noise of the record and the emotion perfectly. And that goes for the other musicians as well, when Archy Marshall is not playing the vocals, guitar, bass, percussions, or the keyboards; Dilip Harris provides the marimba and vibraphone percussion, James Wilson on bass, George Bass on drums, Marc Pell on bongos, Jack Towell on guitar, and Andy Ramsay on technical percussion are all fantastic here. The productive aspect of The OOZ is some of the dirtiest and most intriguing to come out of Krule’s discography. It is also apparent on “Emergency Blimp” which follows and is a sudden jump into another upbeat ride with Krule where the band completely takes over in a sense of rising action. For the amount of real grit behind The OOZ, there is a surprising amount of entertainment and fun factor attached to the record that makes for grooving behind the hellish world that Krule paints.
In the final moments, The OOZ is a rain-painted, shattered glass memoir of King Krule’s final moments with the masterful composition. He is simply powerful, but continues to keep a style and sense of beauty behind his music. It is dualistic and survives well when paired with how Krule can transition from the grief-stricken moments of The OOZ where all hope is lost, to the magnificence where the production and instruments shine in a final blaze of glory that creeps back slowly into the same light from which it came.
Brutality Starts Now // Listen/Watch Here – Youtube
From the subtle piano notes that gracefully begin to fill the foreground, the recording can still pick up the background noise that sounds so similar to the hiss of a vinyl record. The percussion splashes on the cymbals are a clear, but calm indication of some backbone of rhythm. Then finally, as the horns begin to flood in the remaining sound, Miles Davis makes his first appearance in one of the most influential jazz albums of the century.
Kind of Blue was a stepping stone for Davis to fully realize the potential behind his trumpet, and to capitalize on his talents. The style to this day is instantly recognizable among the Jazz Elite, and among the dabblers that can pin-point his exact sound with ease. His opening track, “So What” is iconic in the way that it paints the vivid imagery of the late 1950’s noire. On the cusp of the 1960’s, Miles Davis creates a masterpiece from a steady stream of consciousness behind immaculate breath control and expertise behind his play style. Along side him, are some of the most renown jazz instrumentalists of the time, Bill Evans, Jimmy Cobb, Paul Chambers, John Coltrane, Julian “Cannonball” Adderley, and even Wynton Kelly on “Freddie Freeloader”. The group made for an inseparable amount of chemistry in the recording studio where Davis conducted the group in a slow, but gentle easing of some of Jazz’s heavyweights.
Featuring Walden Wesley // Listen Here – Youtube
Sporadic, spazzed out, and rule-breaking; Injury Reserve is a shifting triple-headed monster of hip-hop lyricism and production that takes new twists and turns down the path to change the formula and create a different spectrum of style. Their first full-studio project, Floss is a mixture of odd, almost jungle production from Parker Corey, while two MC’s, Ritchie with A T, and Stepa J Groggs take over in an onslaught of fresh, but consistent tracks that cut through the hip-hop silence like a deadly blade.
Opening with the gentle piano chords of “Oh Shit!!!”, the turnstiles quickly shift with the warping synths that clang and bang over the gorgeous piano as both MC’s begin to take over. Ritchie with a T begins with a verse that conforms roughly over the sound explaining, “Oh Shit! They said ‘Man we want some more hits. Man, this sound like some shit from ‘06’”. Ritchie then explains, “I say this ain’t jazz rap, this that this that spazz rap, this that raised by the internet, ain’t had no dad rap…Watch your son and your daughter cause them pigs will snatch that”. Floss is a composition that takes thousands of different paths and is able to be surprising at every turn that it takes, as “Oh Shit!!!” starts to reach its second verse from Stepa J Groggs, the production begins to continue to playfully dance along with the chaos and truly begin to form under the pressure of the rhymes. Groggs describes, “Remember momma told me that I need to get my act together, ten years passed, the only difference is I’m rapping better”.
The then sudden transition into the following track, “Bad Boys 3” takes inspiration from what sounds similar to Kanye West’s work with the multiple vocal samples that work synonymous together to create the backing of the instrumental. It is also played collectively with this bouncing illustration of 808 keys that click along and boom behind the verses where Ritchie with a T can wittily describe, “Man, I’m dressed like Carlton, I’m the black Ben Carson…I say on my p’s and q’s like I cam from Figg, got it down to the T cause my name’s legit. Killing it since Motorola Razors paper thin”. Injury Reserve works well when the verses act as a tornado-tag-team effort and where the beat can perfectly shift right with the mostly brash style of both lyricists. There are moments however, where Injury Reserve can completely break the tension and let loose with a cut like, “S On Ya Chest” that takes the schizophrenic pressure away from the action, and instead take more of an uplifting approach.
With a beat that sounds from MF DOOM’s personal vault, “S On Ya Chest” is hopeful, showing the more proper side of Injury Reserve where they can ride a jazz influenced beat, making it into their own similar style. With the horns that play behind them, the phonetic sound of clicks and tongue flicks that create the most humanistic styled track on Floss. Groggs explains, “Ready to tour the world, I’m done with this local shit. If you got the crazy bars, then we the locoest. Say with an A’s fitted like Coco Crisp…I’m just a common man out here trying to do it for the people, looking at these rappers, I don’t see too many equals”. The outro then shows more signs of going back to the synthetic style as a quick, higher-pitched voice comes breaking through and spits a verse that is faster than any other verse on the rest of the album. It takes “S On Ya Chest” into a sudden silence.
The atmosphere on Floss is the best aspect of how it can describe a story perfectly and really feel as a story book. The movements and way that Injury Reserve can really capture the listener with each track, forming these different worlds within Floss is just simply incredible. They are an experimental mix that takes new sides in an all out war of creation in hip-hop. Injury Reserve takes large strides in expressionism, but never strays too far away to become irrational; they hit a perfect balance that is nearly impossible.
Marilyn Manson has been in the musical spotlight since the 1990’s with his cutting-edge antics and catchy tracks that were both socially conscious, and incredibly produced. He influenced pop culture and managed to shift genres at an incredible rate with each album release, breaking the boundaries on a mainstream level. In a modern world, Manson translates well with the incoming wave of new shocking artists who have tried to out-do him time time again. His newest record, Heaven Upside Down is by no means shocking, as a matter of fact it is quite the opposite. Manson has not completely lost its edge, but it has become a much more dull piece if it is being approached as so.
Heaven Upside Down is not going to blow the roofs off of churches and shock parents as Manson did at the height of his career. Now, Manson is more of a shuffling ghost, but this is actually perfect for how he is transitioning from album to album. His last piece, The Pale Emperor was one of Manson’s best releases in years where he could take a steady, but mostly down-tempo approach to the majority of the songs that relied on noise and effects to get the general, ominous sound. On Heaven Upside Down, Manson takes elements from his previous albums in both The Pale Emperor, Born Villain, and even Mechanical Animals where the industrial and abrasive style is toned down and instead turned in for a much more humanistic, more personal Manson. The production on Heaven Upside Down is lovely, and the actual instruments that are used sound better than ever as they are crisp and catchy. From the synths that fill the room like a smoke-screen to the guitars that cut through the silence like a knife. Manson’s sense of serious danger might not exist within himself anymore as the culture has shifted and become more callus, but the catchy tracks and the damning sound is still there behind him.
Manson begins with “Revelation #12”, the heaviest track on Heaven Upside Down and at first impression felt like a quick, grinding hell-ride of noisy feedback that is mixed with a shouting Manson over an industrial styled production. It is a natural progression in Manson as he changes as an artist and begins to form new ideas that he changes his entire style, while keeping a consistent and iconic sense of technique. Manson’s style is something that can be recognized instantly even after being changed throughout his near twenty-five years in the industry. The grinding style that the first three tracks adopt is similar to Born Villain but with a new twist in the way that he integrates more computerized sounds and takes serious notes from the noise-era in music. He works well with taking all these incredible elements of music, shifting them to become his own and to work exactly for him.
In a track like “SAY10”, Manson is residing more towards his area of shocking style, but it just comes off as a little comedic. This was one of the tracks that stands out for how violent and sadistic the instrumental and production is behind Manson’s voice, but his lyrics are bordering on the line of cliché as he describes, “You say ‘God’ and I say ‘SAY10’”. The words are not really one of the strong suits of the album as the instrumentals are the main thing that moves the storyboard along, while Manson delivers some just okay lyrics within his tracks. A track like “KILL4ME” was another that stood out for how the production sounds like a twisted Depeche Mode with the shining synths that play over Manson’s twisted lyrics, “Would you kill, kill, kill for me? I love you enough to ask again”.
There are moments where Heaven Upside Down does truly shine, and these are the parts in which the mighty bird can spread its wings and fly. In other times, it just feels like another Manson album and does not really have the same impact it did when his shock was the main attraction to his music, but the incredible lyrics and movie-esque production made the whole experience worth it. Manson still has these aspects, but they are toned down; the shock has now been released after so many artists have taken what he created and shifted it to become darker than ever imagined. He still creates fantastic music, but the shock god has left the building, and does not show much signs of coming back.
The Destroyer // Listen Here – Soundcloud