Review Summary: All those kids who flipped a bitch about "Alopecia" by Why? are going to flip at least five bitches over "ExitingARM".
With the slowly rising popularity and relevance of anticon. the hip hop collective formed of many assorted “faggy” backpacker (mostly white) rappers, it seems only fit that one takes the time to look at Doseone. As a member of Themselves (along with ‘Jel’) Dose has kept himself busy recording well over ten albums worth of material over the past 10 years with projects such as cLOUDDEAD, 13 & God, Deep Puddle Dynamics, and his current mainstay act, Subtle. Now on their third non-remix album ExitingARM
, Dose along with Jel and their assorted bandmates (including Dax Pierson, a quadriplegic who still managed to contribute to the album) have started to seriously delve into the realms of pop music, but much like in Themselves’ cLOUDDEAD project, they manage to stay abstract as ***.
The album kicks off with the R&B infused “ExitingARM”, the most ‘normal’ song you’ll hear on the record. Filled to the brim with vocal layering and a sick guitar riff, the song is the perfection of Subtle’s odd combination of genres, ranging from hip hop to indie to shoegaze to IDM to MTV-like R&B. It’s smoothness is its greatest strength, as it flows in a way the rest of the album (mindfully) completely jars against, giving you a calm start in your journey to learn about Hour Hero. The following songs work in similar manners, as “Day Dangerous” is a calm shoegaze-y tune and “The No” a more traditional hip hop song. All three of the first songs are winners, but the real experimentation comes with the rest of the album.
As you venture into the rest of the album, you’ll notice a very macabre sense of direction, as the album goes along beat by beat thanks to Jel’s fantastic production. Despite the immediate accessibility of ExitingARM
, Jel manages to pack more substance into these songs than anything he’s ever done. While he’s always been known as a master of the SP-1200 (aka A Drum Machine), he displays his atmospheric inclinations here, as the album seems weightless and boundless, as though Themselves could do whatever they wanted with the music at any time, and you’d still enjoy it. Whether it’s the floaty-ness of “The Crow”, which seems to effortlessly drive through its 4 minute duration, the weirdness of “Wanted Found”, or the closing overture of “Providence” where the song seems to deconstruct the album in front of your ears, its hard to try and put a finger on any one thing Subtle do in their music. They just do it
still has a few problems, and it mostly has to do with the fact that if you aren’t a fan of Subtle already, you will be completely lost as to what is going on lyrically and to some extent musically. While the sound is more cohesive than ever, it still rings a little on the odd side and those without previous experience with any Themselves projects will likely have trouble trying to understand the album. Lyrically, it’s the end of a story (about Hour Hero; yes, Dose couldn’t resist), and if you haven’t been paying attention you’ll be more lost than Sean William Scott in a gay bar. While the lyrics are all well done, sometimes the alienating factor of the story makes it hard to really connect with the album, and the general abstract nature of the record could also be divisive to many people, even those who might normally enjoy a anticon. related product.
However, Subtle have crafted the (and I use this term very, very lightly) “hip hop” album of the year to date, entirely original, creative, and by all accounts exactly what they have been trying to accomplish ever since their first EPs. Dose’s nasally antics may have some mainstream rap lovers automatically writing them off, but then again Subtle isn’t making music to appeal to the Brooklyn hip hop fan. An album for music snobs everywhere, this is the sort of album you show off to your not hip friends in an effort to convince them you aren’t insane in your music taste. A triumph on many levels and a failure on only a few small fronts, ExitingARM
is a more than worthy addition to Themselve’s vast array of musical treasures, and a sign that perhaps in the future we’ll see a truly universal album come from anticon.’s most brilliant duo.