Independent (August 13, 2010)
Review by Matthew K.
There is a certain irony in Calmplex’s monicker – he turns out to bring an intense and turbulent presence on the microphone. Marked by an aggressive tone and rugged disposition on a variety of topics, Calmplex is unapologetic in the many opinions he expresses. Solar Wind Theory draws on a very unique concept of the magnetic force that protects the earth from the sun’s deadly rays. Throughout the album this metaphor is elaborated on in multiple interludes in an attempt to take the album and the listener in a certain direction. This concept, while a refreshing take on how to conceptualize spiritual matters, comes up a little underdeveloped in the end. Still, the artist’s decision to use this analogy provokes thought for the listener as to how this scientific observation and the elements of faith can coincide and speak to each other.
The album has an overall feel of an unrefined, no-holds-barred underground product. The beats themselves have a grimy feel to them that sets the atmosphere throughout the album’s entirety. Calmplex himself has a style and delivery that syncs up perfectly with this aura with his straightforward offering of his thoughts. For some tracks in Solar Wind Theory, these elements combine successfully to create some fruitful messages. Tracks like “Set the Record Straight,” “It Is” and “Zero Hero” really show off this type of well-executed harmony. On that note, there is an interesting trend that the listener might notice in the duration of this project – Calmplex actually seems to come off as a more insightful and better sounding rapper on tracks like these where he slows down and is more, well, calm. Without losing that edge of conviction of his, he is able in such tracks to articulate some of his deeper thoughts more effectively.
At the same time, Solar Wind Theory contains instances where the tensions that are successfully brought together in some tracks are thrown out of balance. In such cases, Calmplex’s approach turns its focus to a more abrasive style of lyricism. The very first song encountered on the album, “Rebirth,” demonstrates this type of energy in an apocalyptic-themed trash-talking session. “Blah” and “Passion” also display this type of coarse expression as the media and fake rappers are the target of Calmplex’s wrath. From its very beginnings, hip hop has always contained an element of trash-talking and playful boasting. When it is done recklessly and without much constructive purpose, however, it can transform into a 4-minute angry rant at the artist’s mercy. There is certainly a thin line to this art in the genre, and unfortunately Calmplex did not walk it well in some of these tracks, something which could serve as a turn off to some of his listeners.
The passion of this artist is unquestioned. At times where it seems some artists are lacking an emotional conviction in their music, Calmplex revives the listener with his offering of driven content. Solar Wind Theory is not quite the finished product it was hoping to be. The production value definitely has room for an upgrade in any future projects Calmplex invests himself in. This is an album that, for the most part, offers some very basic theologies accompanied by a barrage of opinions of the artist. There are spots of creativity throughout the album, but those highlights are counterbalanced by some of the artists misguided zeal. It is clear Calmplex has the will to offer his gift in a take-it-or-leave-it way. This heart for the game should continue to propel him into future projects and many more appearances on the hip hop scene.
For fans of: Shadow of the Locust, Sev Statik, Mouth Warren, under-underground sound