There’s a lot happening in the music world, and we here at Heavy Blog try our very best to keep up with it! Like the vast majority of heavy music fans, our tastes are incredibly vast, with our 3X3s in each Playlist Update typically covering numerous genres and sometimes a different style in each square. While we have occasionally covered non-metal topics in past blog posts, we decided that a dedicated column was warranted in order to more completely recommend all of the music that we have been listening to. Unmetal Monday is a bi-weekly column which covers noteworthy tracks and albums from outside the metal universe, and we encourage you all to share your favorite non-metal picks from the week in the comments. This week, we’ll be highlighting a few albums and tracks that struck our fancy over the past few weeks. Head past the jump to dial down the distortion:
Denzel Curry – TA13OO
There are few names in the realm of hip hop that get me more excited than Denzel Curry. At the ripe old age of 23, the Florida rapper’s manic, versatile, and oftentimes wildly aggressive flow has become a mesmerizing fixture of the Soundcloud rap scene. In a relatively short but thus far highly successful solo career, The former RVIDXR KLVN member has dropped several records, EPs, and compilations over the past five years to increasing attention and acclaim. With his third full-length effort, TA13OO, Curry finds himself exploring new sonic and lyrical territory to great effect.
Released in three acts over consecutive days last week, the album consists of three separate parts: “Light”, “Gray”, and “Dark” that are intended to contain tracks following an emotional arc of each light designation. With this thematic differentiation, one’s initial instinct might be to expect a fairly choppy full-length experience from TA13OO. While the three acts of the record most certainly have their own sonic and thematic elements that make them distinct from one another, the album as a whole flows nicely, serving as a further testament to Curry’s maturation as an artist and songwriter. Kicking off the album’s first part with “TABOO”, it becomes clear immediately that Curry is branching out from his trademark go-hard flow and production aesthetic. Displaying a lyrical sensitivity and raw, sometimes problematic level of honesty, it feels more lush and rich than anything Curry has yet released. This continues throughout “Light”, with “Black Balloons” and “Cash Maniac” riding smoothly through Curry’s luscious flow and deep, synth-heavy production. It feels fresh and invigorating, kicking off the record with an obvious display of sonic adventurousness.
Curry doesn’t stray from his darker side for long, though. The first act’s final track, “Sumo”, brings back the heat that has become a trademark of Curry’s flow and production aesthetic in a big way, showing any fans of his early work that he hasn’t lost his edge. The album’s second section, ”Gray”, opens with “Super Saiyan Superman”, a murky and hard-edged track that sets the tone for the rest of this section of the record, and culminating in the record’s most affecting track, “Clout Cobain”. Lyrically, this track details Curry’s feelings toward fame, increased attention regarding his public image, and his reaction to it. It’s a dark, troubling, and dazzlingly minimalist track that is one of the most captivating of the young rapper’s career thus far. It also perfectly sets up the album’s final act, “Dark”. Appropriately titled, this section of tracks are dark (“The Blackest Balloon”), confrontational (“Percs”), monstrously violent (“Vengeance”), and maniacally aggressive (“Black Metal Terrorist”). If you were afraid that Curry had lost his edge, “Dark” should dispel all of your fears, as this sequence of tracks are some of the most brazen, chaotic, and heavy Curry has yet released.
With three distinct thematic acts, TA13OO could have been a total mess. In reality, it’s the exact opposite. Focused, adventurous, driven, and wild, Curry has released his most complete and arguably best record. A fantastic display of everything that makes Curry great, TA13OO serves as another fundamentally solid entry in the rapper’s fast-growing discography.
The Internet – Hive Mind
Trip hop weirdos The Internet are back with their follow up to 2015’s Ego Death. The now-quintet combines several different genres, including hip hop, funk, R&B, and a little soul into this unique blend of low key electronic R&B. The whole album is relatively subdued which makes it all the more interesting. It a uniquely contemporary view of more soulful music made all the more original by the Odd Future connection the band has.
In a way, it’s a great throwback to R&B of old. There’s few things in this world as good as soul or R&B played by a live band instead of nothing but synthesizers and computers. Guitarist Steve Lacy harkens back to Eddie Hazel of Parliament/Funkadelic with wah-wah guitar melodies while bassist Patrick Paige II maintains a complex bassline that fits the song perfectly. The whole band are masters of their domain making this kind of music, but the low-key nature of it is a far cry from the bombast of James Brown and R&B of years gone by. It’s nice to hear a new generation of artists take a unique position on the genre like this.
Take “Come Over”. Obviously this is prime R&B territory as a song about a late night tryst. Syd’s vocals are breathy and alluring, very much in the theme of a song like this. The whole song is relatively sparse with significant sections of very basic drums, a simple bass line, and the vocals over the whole thing. What is most impressive is the general orchestration of the whole song. In order to achieve this sound and be thematic, a lot of moving parts have to work together in the right ways. It needs to be very tight and everyone needs to be in sync. The Internet is more than capable and this is an excellent addition to their growing catalog.
The Hagiographer in Motion – Divine Raiment
One of the things we’re most proud of on the blog is the music that our staff members make and, specifically, the wide variety of genres being approached. We have members making technical death metal, progressive metal and more. One of our more diverse members has always been Simon Handmaker; they’ve dabbled in plunderphonics, ambient music and drone. Just a few days, they’ve added to their repertoire something they call a “a proof concept” going under the name of The Hagiographer in Motion. If this track is any indication of more thoughts bubbling beneath the surface, then I certainly hope the concept has been proved and that we can expect more music from this project; it’s excellent.
The thing that always strikes me first with Simon’s work is their approach to aesthetics; everything from project name, to track name, the cover of the album, the quotes associated with it and more is always so on point. Here, we’re treated to a Tennyson poem which builds the perfect mood for this somber and ponderous piece; as it plods along underneath the gaze of the static which runs through it, the ethereal paradise described in the poem cannot help but echo through our minds. Especially on point are the weird sounds which make up a sort of industrial, twisted choir near the end of the track, returning once again to the religious themes that this release is steeped in.
Overall, this piece is in line with the direction Simon’s music has been going in for a while. It’s more melancholy than previous works but still has the trademark, slightly odd tones, the dedication to echoing drone (featured prominently in the beginning of the track with carefully placed chords which run just underneath being abrasive) and the overall sensation of oppression and gloom. The end result is a tantalizing taste from more stuff that’s hopefully to come. The Hagiographer’s motion seems laborious and rough e pur si muove!