Menu | Rating System | Guest Book | Archived Reviews:
A | B | C | D | E | F | G | H | I | J | K | L | M | N | O | P | Q | R | S | T | U | V | W | X | Y | Z

  From the Filthy Tounges of Gods and Griots  
Release Date:
Reviewed by:

The music that Dälek makes is like nothing that i have ever heard before, and there are three things that can mean:

  1. I am too narrow in my listening habits and need to get out more.
  2. This music is crap, and the reason i haven't heard it is that it is best avoided.
  3. It is a creation of genius, and is one of those moments when someone does something truly and utterly creative.

Number 1 is probably true, but then again, it's safe and cozy here in Indie Rock Land. But as to 2 or 3 being the case: something in my gut tells me to go with 3. The music is really catchy, and the layers and layers (and layers) of sound combine to create something of majesty, something darkly brilliant.

All i have to say is: Wow.

For those of you who are unaware, Dälek is a hip-hop act. Not like Eminem of one of those rappers who talk over a simplistic beat (you know, the stuff you see when you flip past BET during the day, or MTV in the afternoon). No, this is convoluted word-smithing over thick, rich music.

It's really hard to describe the music. Yes, it's obviously a collection of samples -- you can hear hisses and pops from old records from time to time. But there is minimal scratching. Instead the samples speak for themselves. And there are dozens of them in any one song, along with layers of guitar drone and old drum riffs and atonal singing (perhaps played at the wrong RPM) and, well, more sounds that i can really describe. It is as if the DJs in the band (Still and Oktopus) have taken all the music they have ever heard and somehow distilled it into this one heady mix.

Over this mélange of sound, rapper Dälek spews strange poems, dark poems, angry poems. He is not rapping about girls and cars. Instead he is deeply furious at the world, the hand it has dealt him, and man's inhumanity towards his fellow man. Dälek's raps are true Class of '77 punk rock.

So, combine punk rapping with heady sample distillation and you get something that is not quite like anything you have heard before. Oh sure, there is a faint connection to the Anticon crew (Themselves, cLOUDEAD, etc.) in the music, but Still and Oktopus make music that is darker and more complex than the Anticoners. And of course, Dälek's angry punk raps are nothing like the artsy stoner ramblings of Anticon. So i think that Dälek is pretty unique.

(Or is it? Granted, i don't know much about the underground of hip-hop, so maybe there are dozens of acts like Dälek out there, and i am just unexposed to them. If you know of such acts, please email me the details. I want to hear more.)

That said, i feel like is should describe the songs, but i am overwhelmed by them every time i listen. Nonetheless, like i good Minion i shall persevere and do the best i can.

The first tune, Spiritual Healing is a furious tune. But then i guess that catharsis is healing, and there was that "primal scream therapy" stuff back in the 1980's… So perhaps by spewing his angst like this, Dälek is, in fact, engaging in a real spiritual healing. I hope the song made Dälek feel better, but i am betting not, although the results are worth listening to.

The next two songs, Speak Volumes and ...From Mole Hills are meta-rap tunes. That is, they are raps about the status of rap culture. Apparently, Dälek thinks that rap is going to hell in a handbasket of over-commercialization. (I suppose this is similar to the "Punk's not dead, it just smells funny." commentary of the early 1980's.)

In Speak Volumes Dälek is obviously distraught. "33 degree new continents i'm mapping, yo i'm, asking -- what happened" repeated at an ever increasing, ever more neurotic pace over an intricate drum beat, a subtle piano melody, and slide guitar. This song builds slowly as his rapping gets more and more insistent. ...From Mole Hills features the chorus, "I remember hip hop. That's my Mt. Zion." This is rapped in a more resigned, sad manner, as compared to the rage of the previous song. The rap is done over clattering odd percussion (gamelan samples perhaps) and whining guitar drone. At the end, it descends into some funky scratching layered with fuzzed out guitar samples for an excellent conclusion.

There are several really nice tunes in the middle of the disc, most noticeably Black Smoke Rises, but it is the album's closer that bowls me over. It's called Classical Homicide and is an angry song. Angry like Ministry or early Nine Inch Nails or Black Flag or Minor Threat. Dälek is positively screaming here in a way that makes me worry he will hurt his voice if he keeps it up. All of this is over a wall of guitar distortion and thudding beats. It's uneasy, yet seems excessively honest. You never get the impression that this is an angry pose (like one got with late era Ministry). Rather, these people are pissed off and you need to stay out of their way.

Anyway, this is a really cool album. It's a little slow in places (the middle tracks drag just a hair), and it's more dark than most people would like to listen to, but it is well done and with very interesting sounds. Still and Oktopus have done a fine job, and Dälek's vocals provide a nice counterpoint to their sonic collages.

I am very impressed.

Related Links:

My first experience with Dälek was seeing them open for The Dismemberment Plan back in November of 2000, and they were very impressive live as well.


Return to the top of this page. | Return to the Album Review menu.