Archive for April, 2015

Risk on Da Disk

Dubwise, Vol. 1, 2015

Review by Kent Manthie                                          Risk on da disk

Dubwise, Vol. 1 is a new remix album from the Tulsa, OK-based dub-hip-hop outfit, Risk On Da Disk. The album features seven remixes of songs from the band’s two previous albums: Chances and Consequences and Redemption along with a brand new track: “Too Hot To Handle”.

On Dubwise, Vol.1, Risk On Da Disk reinterprets their own tunes by basically remixing them and “redubbing” them in their own, inimitable style.

The album continues in the vein of the “dub” style, restructuring songs, rearranging their lyrics, adding extra lines here and there, and changing some of the instrumentation along with adding some echo and reverb that pulsates over heavy bass riffs which act as a great rhythmic driver, emphasizing the beats.

Hope that you enjoy this new sample of some re-worked Risk On Da Disk material; it should keep you going until these guys put out a new full-length that should be out this summer. In the meantime…just keep kicking back and enjoying those Dunhill (the big cigar brand)-sized blunts and wallowing in your delicious dream-states, those waves of beautiful feelings that listening to things like dub, for instance, can be quite entrancing!

Until summertime – kick back and enjoyyyyyy! -KM

Back to the Heavyweight

Posted: April 20, 2015 in New Indie Music

 

Gruf the Druid

Surface Area

Marathon of Dope Records, 2015

Review by Kent Manthie

OK, so it’s mid-April. What’s going on? Well, what I want to bring up to your attention today is the new Marathon of Dope release, the newest EP by Gruf the Druid. It’s a relatively smooth riding hip-hop record, with plenty of slick rhymes; a groovy rap album, Surface Area.

Since the early 1990s, Gruf has been active in hip-hop both as a solo act and, for instance, his first outfit: the Winnipeg-based hip-hop combo, Twisted Spirit, which soon changed and evolved into Frek Sho. Even back in those early days, Gruf was known for originality, the fluidity of perspective in his work as well as a great imagination, which has always been a main feature of the albums on which he was featured. One of Gruf’s most influential and memorable indie hip-hop albums, even today, continues to be the one where Gruf worked with Pip Skid on the Fermented Reptile album, Let’s Just Call You Quits.

Druidry, Gruf’s solo outing, continued to showcase his unique tighrope act. Now, in 2015, with some 12 or so albums behind him, like the 2013 Marathon of Dope album, 2 Sense Squared, Gruf, once again emerges, on his own, with a brand new work of hip-hop that has its own style, not one of the few copycat snoozers you hear on commercial radio, for instance, but one that has some inspired, original and trailblazing albums – iconoclastic, if one is really enthralled, one could call it, Gruf has just released, on Marathon of Dope, Surface Area. Produced and co-written by The Gumshoe Strut, The Surface Area takes the listener on a mind-expanding ride with a superlative rhythmic core. The Surface Area shows, once again that Gruf is still in his peak and doing well, always veering off into wider and wider, as well as new terrain for him that fits like a glove.

This is a surprisingly groovy album, not a syrupy, faux-R&B ripoff which you hear a lot these days: rappers and other hip-hoppers trying to exhume the past and pull the gold off the fingers and teeth of the corpses from the now dead, giants of yesteryear (by dead, I don’t necessarily mean figuratively). But in Gruf’s case, he has a knack for fusing catchy hooks and dope beats along with a mellow-but-firm and not directionless MC.

So, let it be known that Gruf’s back again and this time he wants to take your breath away. Sure, it’s no breakthrough, like NWA or Public Enemy, or even the groundbreaking genius of Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five. No, Gruf isn’t going all out for the in-your-face political-social polemics set to music and, the one thing that I do sort of pine for when I listen to this, are those kick-ass, bombastic beats, the seamless DJ-ing which, with a lot of today’s more sophisticated and talented hip-hopsters, overlaps with real instrumental work in the background. I’m not saying Gruf should just go and be a copycat of what’s come before, but to keep in mind what made the best rap the best – the beats and the razor-sharp zig-zagging which takes one in and out of the hippest clubs in NYC and not be afraid to show a little bit of roots. Remember what’s happened to all the other rap acts who tried to be more “accessible” (aka “white friendly”) – not gonna happen. But on top of everything else, you have to stay true to your beliefs and your style – you cannot copy anyone else’s style and hope you won’t get called on it – you will! Otherwise, this is a steady album and it deserves a listen. Who knows, I may be wrong, maybe I just need to listen to it a few more times to get it. But going by what the fans and critics are saying and writing, I’m going to be easy on him and say – OK – give it to me! -KM.

Cemetery Serenade

Posted: April 16, 2015 in Uncategorized

Darren Deicide

Back From the Dead: The Harismus Sessions, 2015

Review by Kent Manthie                                                                                                  darren deicide at harismus cemetery

The historic landmark known as the Jersey City and Harismus Cemetery was originally founded in 1829. It is a six acre sized area of land that houses the dead of New Jersey, going back, almost 200 years!

Anyway, not too long ago, Darren Deicide, whose albums I’ve had the pleasure of reviewing in the past (especially my favorite one, Rockin’ Until The Apocalypse), recently received permission from the state of New Jersey for the purpose of setting up and recording Darren playing a few songs.

The actual performance was recorded in the daytime, which was, I suppose, the time frame allotted to them by the New Jersey Cemetery Authority…? Or, possibly, the crew was only available then, or it was decided that this was the perfect time frame to do it. Myself, though, I kind of thought that it would’ve been a nighttime performance: playing his raw, stripped down brand of blues in a darkened, mysterious graveyard, giving it some spooky ambiance and so on. But, the fact that it was done during daylight also has its merits, probably the biggest being that one gets the chance to see the window-on-the-past which Harismus presents itself as. So, when you weigh the two: doing it at night or in daylight hours, I suppose if it were any other, typical run-of-the-mill graveyard, doing it at nighttime, just for the spooky effect would’ve been cool, but in order to show off the marvelous and historic nature of Harismus Cemetery and its landmark status as a long-standing cemetery, going back the the early 19th century, you can see why the place needed to be included in the show as well. It’s also a very beautiful place: not row, upon row of graves and headstones, but almost like a park, with a variety of features to it which is why they go to different spots for each tune. The Harismus which I saw in the video looks as if it’s been quite kept up over the centuries. The grounds look well-maintained, kept up, although some of the statuary and headstones there do look a bit worn, it, nonetheless, gives it a quaint look of historic value.

The title of this performance video has a double-meaning, since, before Darren got back his strength to do it, he’d been, as is written in the opening credits, through some “shattered personal relationships, a few tragic losses and a serious accident that sent me to the hospital, we bring you…” [Back From the Dead] – a title which is both a good reference to his performance in the cemetery, but one that also reflects his having overcome some adversity – especially his hospitalization for the accident which incapacitated Deicide for a time.

The three-song set, starts out at one site, where Deicide sings “Devil Woman Blues”, which is Darren’s take on an old blues song by Skip James, entitled, “Devil Got My Woman”. Singing it, he’s perched up on a retaining wall or whatnot. While he plays the hauntingly, tingly song, the camera alternates between filming him and wandering through some of the paths, which traverse the gravesites.

Next, he takes a seat at a chair in the shade of a tree, where he sings “Dance of the Demon Rag”, an instrumental tune, that is crafty and, even though there’s no one else except for Darren, playing his acoustic guitar, still, somehow, has a nice rhythmic quality to it. In the background of this part, you can see a nice patch of bright green grass behind the tree in which there are some graves: a few headstones to his left and over on the right, some grave markers; no headstones, just those granite rectangles that are embedded in the ground.

Lastly, he does what is my favorite of all three: “Hudson River Hangover”. Utilizing a slide as he does in “Devil Woman Blues”, the guitar seems to be almost a complement to his vocals, more than just an accompaniment. It’s a gem of a song – a steady, rumination about the chaos that enveloped him during the night and how he’s now dealing with the aftermath – the “hangover” – whether a real, alcohol-drug-induced hangover or an existential hangover – or even both, Deicide really stokes the fires with this one.

Then, before you know it, the whole thing’s over. But, if you have the video on your computer, saved to your hard drive or to a DVD, you can always revisit it anytime. Look out for more new material sometime in the not-too-distant future. Currently, Deicide’s latest album is the 7 inch vinyl record: Bomb This Joint, from which one can download the tracks -just go to his website: https://www.darrendeicide.com and those whose interest was piqued from seeing parts of this historic cemetery can go to https://www.jerseycemetery.org Happy listening and viewing! -KM.