Review Summary: J Dilla meets Flylo in an opium den
Welcome to Brainfeeder – home to the illustrious and the prolific leaders of glitch riddled hip hop. The L.A. based label has always been seen as a haven for the top purveyors of this chilled yet restless sound, a mixture of the young and the young at heart filling up its roster. And while Flylo is somewhere between a supernova and transforming Miles Davis into binary, and The Gaslamp Killer tries desperately to consume his own face, Brainfeeder's latest rising star has taken a more subtle approach: drug addled paranoia. Mono/Poly (real name Charles E. Dickerson) has crafted a trip through the dark and questioning subconscious of a mind at fault with the world around him, out of sync and grasping for purchase. Its an illustrious undertaking, and a not so subtle beginning to his musical career, given that he peppers his music with political and religious doctrine. Samples of political promises and religious ideology swirl in and out of the discordant beats, memories better contemplated with pharmaceutical input. The propaganda plays its part, but its purely interpretive as to why it appears. Be it the ramblings of a distorted mind, or a contemplative paranoid weighing up perceived hypocrisy under hazy clouds, but the jolting and bumpy beats play against the institutionalized puff pieces with a simple ease and an effortless charm.
It doesn't start pleasant, but that could possibly be the point. The first 3 or 4 tracks race through with a typical wonky nature, frantic and dystonic, static yet shaky. 4 troubled tracks in a row and right off the bat might sound like an early step in the wrong direction, and you wouldn't be far from the truth, but we're riding a trip here. We're peeling layers away, starting at the cusp, pupils beating with more urgency than a heartbeat and aware of things that aren't even there. Dickerson is a mind traveler, and he's more than aware that the first advances need to be tentative ones; there needs to be a sense of security that we've heard this before, we know the in's and out's and the exit's in sight. But once we're pacified, safe and serene travelers, does Mono/Poly begin the blitzkrieg. Both 'Antibodies' and 'The System Crumbles' (an aptly named combo) traverse new ground in “headphone hop”. The former is a jolt, glitch holding hands with IDM and caught in a trance, while the latter drops J Dilla into a dubstep minefield. Shaky melodies gasp for breathe but the real hook is the bass, claustrophobic and organic, it rattles through the senses faster than anything currently available over the counter.
There's a theme of almost cosmic terror that anchors the first half of the album, so its no surprise that the snippets of audio samples that reappear like inner voices only add to the anarchic beats. But the halfway point of Paramatma
makes for an interesting change in the blueprint. Dickerson drops the shifty nervousness and goes for something more tranquil, more sedated. After the opening monologue that seems to touch on evolution 'Waters Of Duality' ushers in the reprieve. Its still glitch heavy, unfazed with being off kilter and narcotic, but there's a certain sense of recollection to be had in its cosmic peak. 'Land Of Love' and its counterpart 'Star Grab' continue the pattern, at times losing the beat all together and returning to J Dilla-esque moments of old glory Hip Hop silhouettes. 'Fireworks' adds in layers of teary eyed synthesizers and smoky Jazz takes center stage on 'Lets Take A Trip', but its the gut puncher 'Analysis (DNA) / Fire Passion' that almost manages to reach the heights of Flylo. The beat is dirty and deep, scissor cutting its way through torn layers of synths and coffee framing Jazz licks, it haunts back to the intoxicating nature of the album's first half with its smoky aftertaste and brush strokes of addiction.
is a slap in the face, and then at the drop of a coin its as soft and inviting as a pillow. Its also a tough nut to crack, its syncopated rhythm hidden in dense layers of haze and bass. Its gonna take a few listens to unhook this album's true nature, its identity; and I get the feeling that every time you do work it all out it'll be different each time. Little snippets of epiphany run through this album, little moments of “I know what's going on here”. Get Paramatma now, because trust me, you don't have a clue what's going on here.