Indie (February 2, 2010)
Review by Trey Palmisano
The Scribbling Idiots collective is representative of talent. I’m beginning to learn this the deeper I delve into their solo projects and realize that DeepSpace 5 isn’t the only all-star team to flex their verbal muscle. Last year I was impressed by showings by Just Me and Cas Metah, and Theory Hazit has been a favorite of mine ever since I began the transition from secular to sacred. It’s good that despite their collectivity, their individual sounds are refreshingly heterogeneous, that is, not the same, for those of you following along with your dictionaries at home. That’s why it’s a shame to me that so many hip hop heads will never hear the talents of these guys. I’ve even seen them perform live by telecast and their onstage presence is every bit as pleasing as the work they are putting out.
Yet, coming to Wonder Brown and Pumpkin Foot, I expected a little less, since I haven’t heard much from them, and I was sure that the other guys have had greater exposure to the spotlight for a reason. Like many things in my imperfect life, I’m pleased to report that my expectations were thoroughly turned upside down.
What makes this album an entertaining work of musical art is directly equivalent to one’s ability to skew their musical antennas. That’s because this album is anything but conventional. It has an almost haunting, ethereal feel to it, like angels descending and ascending Jacob’s Ladder, as if these guys listened to a heavy dose of world music before laying down the tracks and decided to take that inspiration and run.
My first surprise came almost immediately. I usually don’t like interludes or narratives. Somehow either they are too silly or too serious that they become silly. But the opening track sets the mood perfectly and the line “Your tongue may be tied, but you are spoken for,” got my attention.
All in all, I was blown away by this one, and I really applaud the sheer daring Pumpkin Foot shows in experimenting with so many different sounds. Probably one of the best ends to a year filled with great hip hop. But let me digress and talk a little bit about what greatest sounds like.
From the moment the music breaks, “Ace” is precisely the kind of energy that introduces an infusion of exotic sounds reaching into the mind. Each song individualizes its unique character. “Truth Spoken” has a feel reminiscent of an old Enigma track while “What Could I Do” is oppositely peppy, up tempo, and brought me back to the days when Deep Forest was combing out Brazilian folk music over native vocals. Lest I force these comparisons too aggressively, the point is how universal the power of music and how we’re never too far from experiencing similarities.
Even a bit more interesting for me were the spooky acapellas reminiscing the emotion found in turn-of-the-century negro spirituals for which the only thing missing was a crackling record sound. “Time and Space” and “Wailin” both expressed this genre quite nicely and I found myself captivated by the simple nature of it all after listening to very contemporary composition.
The verses put down with the tracks were a mouthful at times, showing no fear of multi-syllabism, but nevertheless there was a steadiness and sureness that matched the beats. But for up-and-coming lyricists interested in distinguishing themselves with a sound all their own, The Gallows should be part of your curriculum.
For fans of: Theory Hazit, Cas Metah, JustMe, Mouth Warren, Scribbling Idiots