Saturday, January 23, 2010

What we're listening to: Gutter Tactics

Gutter Tactics (2009) by Dälek

Dälek (pronounced "dialect") is a Newark-based hip-hop emcee, partnered with DJ/producer Oktopus. Utilizing live drums, guitars, keyboards, sitar, and extreme electronic manipulation, Dälek create a gritty musical amalgam that upends any preconceptions you may have regarding rap music. (This duo have virtually nothing in common with contemporary mainstream rap artists, e.g., Jay-Z or Lil Wayne. Their nearest approximation would probably be New York's Antipop Consortium, who also released an incredible record in 2009.) These innovative soundscapes have permanently consigned Dälek to the underground, paradoxically freeing them to pursue their avant-garde experimentalism. Gutter Tactics is Dälek's fifth album. Lyrically, MC Dälek is as engaged and politically acerbic as ever. His political preoccupations are particularly well integrated on the track "Los Macheteros/Spear of a Nation," where his discourse on Nelson Mandela is backed by a South African choral group. The sonic complexity of this recording makes it a perfect listen for headphones, but, at just about the five-minute mark of the track "Who Medgar Evers Was..." you may start to feel a bit woozy. Hang in there until track six, "A Collection of Miserable Thoughts Laced with Wit," where the duo wisely allow for some breathing room and create a strangely intimate experience. Gutter Tactics may be the most artistically advanced hip-hop production since Public Enemy's collage-masterpiece It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back, on which The Bomb Squad essentially created the genre's modern template.

Find it in the catalog!