producers: the unseen

1. Slithering
2. Twilight
3. Haunt Me
4. The Home Of The Homeless
5. Live A Lie
6. Pergatory
7. Furniture
8. Possibility
9. No Defenses
10. Beyond Addiction
12. Master Peace
13. Dusk


The Nightmare

There's still no verdict in the case of hip hop vs. live instrumentation. And there's a new witness for the defense on the stand. And the trial is delayed, because the clerk of the court was needed in another case. After the witness hissed an unnecessary diss in the direction of the clerk, things began, and The Unseen started to first answer the questions of the defense, to later be under the inquiry of hip hop's lawyer.

Okay, again a fairy tale, but it does kind of fit the not outspoken debate about the position of live instrumentation in hip hop. Sure, The Roots, Infectious Organisms, and others showed that it can be dope. But for every Roots, there's a whole armada of people that maybe know their instruments, but don't know how to get the thumps the boom baps out of 'em, and make something worthwhile. The Unseen, 3/5 Human (guitar), Akiba (keys) and Aton (raps / keys) are also doing their brand with instrumentation, but unlike too many others, and to a better result, they don't try to recreate samples, but they play musical structures. Meaning that their offering is not limited and restrained to being beats, but being, well, music.

You have to realize that you are into something different with the self drawn cover, showing a lynched Black man, in front of the American flag. And the opening "Slithering" combines eerie keyboard chords with a voice sample. But even more remarkable is "Twilight", a jazzy piano solo of two minutes and some change, showing that these kids got skills behind the keys, but also further preparing us for an unlikely hip hop experience. Finally, on "Haunt Me", Aton (fka Akhenaten) steps to the mic, and he will hit you with a wall of expressed agony, speaking about the real time frustrations, asking the world, if it can be his fault, if the corrupts of the world are just too much for one man to carry. In the same way other artists and poets were facing their anger and let them explode through musical or written outbursts, so are The Unseen taking us through "The Home Of The Homeless", a track being held back with the musical possibilities, but the words are making this a marching tank.

With a classical piano opening "Live A Lie" has us open again, as is the piano what makes us oversee the more and more appealing drum. Things turn quite chaotic through the course of the song, that is well fitting for an experimental audience. "Pergatory" is the first cut that works without flaw. Nothing to adopt to first, nothing that hits us and confuses us. The piano, the bass, the sparkling appearing halfway through and Aton's voice got the right chemistry. Aton does not rap though, he talks. The poet locked within him is taking over and lacing us with words, that'd rather be written down, than being shot into our ears. "Furniture" is beat wise highly abstract, that makes it highly unusual, but also highly dope. This recorded with better equipment, the right mastering, a clear recording, people would give this a whole lot of attention. Aton is still haunted by nightmares, walking through his lyrical house, like a nursery home, still being the home for all souls that ever died within these walls.

Moving on to another downplayed track called "Possibility", where Aton talks about some of the ridiculous civilization achievements, like finding medicine for all kinds of personal troubles, but not finding drugs to cure the real illnesses. Like the rest of the album, the mixing and probable lack of mastering is keeping the drum too loud and the elements too little embedded within each other. And on "No Defenses", the space web layers hovering in the back, would have worked well in the foreground. Also the bass could have been utilized more. Once again Aton is taking us through his book of despair, hating that he has to despise his country, while he actually loves it, and similar discrepancies. "Beyond Addiction" is building slowly, that takes us into the head, the blood cells, the synapses of someone being entrapped within the always returning urges, needs and musts.

The record then returns to where it started and takes us into areas of the dungeon, we will never find our way out again, without help. "Master Peace" is like a migraine, pushing you to throw up, spitting blood and chasing your own shadow. It's a sound somewhere, or next room, you know that shouldn't be there, that you can't explain. It's the moment you reach for your pillow to cover your ears, the moment, you reach for something solid, in case something bloodthirsty is sneaking up onto you. This is you putting down the ballot, knowing the person that will count it, will not agree with your vote. And next is "Dusk", a epic travel through 12 minutes of your life, but also through the life of The Unseen, and through the guitar (or is this an extremely altered keyboard key?) of 3/5 Human, and a return to what the still aware are so good at: creating emotions with patient instrumentation. Putting small key branches into the fire, it slowly gaining in size and heat. And yes, this will be a hassle to go through to all the ignorant consumers, that don't know a musical artful offering, when it's tattooed on their eyes. But "Dusk" might express what the nightmare truly is better than words, that are always loaded with your own personal meaning and interpretation.

We've now reached the end of the credited tracks, but this records is not yet ready to fade out. It actually puts sequels to all those gut wrenching nightmares you have gone through, with especially a track like "#16" being a butchers knife eating out your stomach."#17" is not remotely more quiet, it jumping in your face in an 'aargh' mode. "#18" explores a more funky region, "#19" almost caters to the Latin craze of today, with it's percussion's, and "#20" acts as the reverse remix.

Okay, this is not for all people. Straight up. Then again, it is for all people. It will not solve the case of hip hop vs. live instrumentation, as it's 'abstract minimalism', is stretching the boundaries of what is considered rap / hip hop. The courage is remarkable and deserves a nod. The lyrics are refusing to babble, as they are taking reality angst and makes them hearable for your ears. The sound structures are complex buildings that sometimes obey to rectangles, but at other times, refuse to do just that, like they'd be designed by Hundertwasser. And we can't force that onto anyone. We can suggest it to everyone, it being a exciting chapter in ones one musical upbringing. But in the end, as some people in the jury will voyeuristically, and excitingly view the explicit and uncensored pictures of violent crimes, others are just disgusted. The same goes for this record.

review: tadah the byk

2000 - 2012.08 by urban smarts | contact