Skip to main content

BULLIES - いじめっ子 (2019)

LISTEN

I DON'T SNORT CAINE, I BUMP WAYNE SHORTER

Hip-hop at the moment is just plain weird. Since trampling rock music a few years back, the genre has become an unstoppable boulder of cultural relevance backed by three decades of momentum.

It's a level of saturation near impossible to comprehend, where just keeping up with trends can feel like a spectator sport. Similarly electric is the idea that stars can come from anywhere. Though this is laughably optimistic, as finding creative rappers on platforms like Soundcloud can feel like looking for a needle in an autotuned haystack.

In other words, I'm glad I found this album. Bullies is the self-titled debut from a newly named trio of producer Azarias with MCs Denmark Vessey and DrxQuinnx. While I'm unfamiliar with the latter, Vessey and Azarias caught my attention in 2017 after casually releasing one of the decade's most wildly creative hip-hop albums under Buy Muy Drugs. Their debut unravelled Denmark's lyrical themes into webs of fabricated conspiracy to create a sonic world unlike much else I've ever heard. Bullies' lo-fi boom-bap feels restrained in comparison, but that's far from a bad thing.

Azarias' sparse sampled beats host offbeat vocal performances, finding space to experiment with glitchy textures without ever leaving a backseat role. It's honestly impressive how well the trio compliment each other, Quinn and Vessey's styles have significant overlap but always remain distinct.

While Denmark is clearly the more experienced MC, Quinn's presence adds real chemistry as the two trade bars on everything from new-age religion to prescription drug abuse. Their skill disparity rarely shows itself but can ruin songs when it pops up. Denmark's verse on Heru is an album highlight but Quinn's annoying sing-song vocals sound like a bad impersonation of Busdriver.

Bullies owes a lot to early backpack rap, both MCs share a scattershot lyrical approach characteristic of hip-hop in the internet age. Denmark's aforementioned verse on Heru mentions snorting cocaine while bumping jazz legend Wayne Shorter, and Quinn cockily brags about his knowledge of Sun Tzu. This refreshing approach to 'conscious' subject matter, along with stripped back brevity, really ties the project together as a whole.

Despite sharing an aesthetic with dozens of other DIY hip-hop projects, Bullies is far more than meets the eye. Despite barely reaching the half hour mark, there's not a track on here that feels uninspired. All three members make an effort to compliment and vary their respective styles,grabbing your attention then rewarding you for it.

Let's not let this one get lost in the crowd.

7.5/10

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Sophie Min - SOLO VOL. 1 (2020)

LISTEN As the world continues to spend days apart, it seems an opportune time to review some solo improvisation. The past few years have seen local pianist Sophie Min become an ever-more established name in Australian jazz. Endlessly prolific, her growing catalogue boasts collaborations with some of Brisbane's most exciting players: the likes of Ben Shannon , Helen Svoboda , and Tim Green . With an orchestral project still in the pipeline, Soph has seen it fit to release curt, solo renditions of original compositions as SOLO VOL. 1 . While I've been an avid follower of Min's improvisational exploits, her playing style sits firmly straddled between the worlds of classical and jazz. GBDE 's childlike innocence recalls the early Romantic period while knottier (k)numbers like Just Exploded evoke Debussy's sombre approach toward ruminative registers. It's these aspects of impressionism that see Sophie skirting the framework of her compositions, chipping away

Autechre - AE_LIVE 2016/2018 (2020)

LISTE N MELBOURNE_220618 What was best concert you've ever been to? How much of it do you actually remember? The human brain has a tendency to squash experiences down into bite-sized sensory snippets and emphasise emotional impact, leaving us with heartening yet endlessly fallible recollections of past events. Now if you could hear that gig again, exactly as it sounded, what would that do to the memory? This is what I'll be exploring with the release of MELBOURNE_220618 , one of seven soundboards recently released by electronic heavyweights Autechre as AE_LIVE 2016/2018 . Quick caveat, this show actually took place on the 21st of June as I saw them in Tasmania on the 22nd, but erroneous titles aside let's move on. This tour, known by fans as 'onesix',  explored the 'deep mixing' practices of their studio work this decade, presenting dense palettes of post-human ambient and contorting them into sounds unheard. It's a

Justice Yeldham Interview - The World's Best Broken Glass Player

THE WORLD'S BEST BROKEN GLASS PLAYER Lucas Abela has always been a hard man to ignore. Even before adopting broken glass and the Justice Yeldham moniker, he was destroying records with power tools, attaching effects pedals to trampolines, and 'banging on metal' as a self-described Gold Coast teenage goth. I sat down with Lucas and his 2 year old son Ernie (a budding noise artist) to snack on carob and chat all things glass biting, instrument building, free improvising, and expectation subverting. The musical snippets bookending each section are taken from Justice Yeldham's forthcoming release on Feeding Tube Records . Justice Yeldham is playing a FREE show at The Foundry this Thursday May 9th, supported by Barbry Allen, Wrong Man, and Lilith. Check out the Facebook event for more details. Early Years Lucas spent his high school days bouncing between Brisbane and the Gold Coast, channeling teenage angst into primitive sonic explorations. These year