Review Summary: An alternate beginning and middle would be preferable as well.
At this point, it’s become rather cliché to reference Death Grips
in a review of a noisy hip-hop record. But after hearing California experimental hip-hop producer Lee Bannon
sample MC Ride on just the second track (entitled “NW/WB”) of his debut album, Alternate/Endings
, the comparison essentially pens itself. Yet, it’s difficult to link the two artists in really any other way, at least based on the remaining eleven songs. It seems the main goal that Bannon wished to accomplish was not to sound like Death Grips
, but rather to compose like them; that is, to transform apparent musical chaos into a structured and engaging song.
However, Bannon’s attempt at accomplishing this M.O. produces a distinctly frustrating listen that causes the hour-long endeavor to become increasingly tiresome. Bannon’s issue isn’t so much that he doesn’t “compose like Death Grips
” very well, but that, quite frankly, he just doesn’t compose very well in general. This may sound harsh, but the issues found on Alternate/Endings
are highly prominent flaws present on every track.
Stating the worst offender requires no hesitation: the percussion throughout is a severe misstep. To illustrate this point, imagine every beat on OutKast
is replaced with the drum style on “B.O.B.” Now take that drum style, jack up the tempo and intensity and then bring it to the fore front of every track. Really, it’s as obnoxious as it sounds. The only track where the drums are subdued is “Phoebe Cates,” which is additionally the strongest track on the album, containing a spacey atmosphere with both male and female falsetto vocals tastefully sampled and spattered throughout the track.
But other than “Phoebe Cates,” the album feels like Bannon simply spliced together various complimentary samples and synth textures on his DAW of choice. None of the sounds feel dissimilar, and in turn, each track lacks any clear focus. Pair this with this dreadful drum sound and the results are songs that feel like the work of almost any novice teenager toying with FL Studios. There is a glimmer of promise on the beginning of “216” with an intriguing cloaked piano intro, but the same trite drum sounds burst out midway through and quell any momentum.
In all honesty though, there isn’t much drive on Alternate/Endings
anyway, which is a rather damning critique for a producer as fresh as Bannon. What his angle will be is unclear as well, especially since his style is far to cluttered for an emcee to ride. Bannon’s only hope for success is to realize that “experimental” means giving uncommon ideas appeal and not experimenting with the presets on DJ software.