Thursday, September 1, 2011

Alias' Fever Dream

So, yes, I reviewed another Anticon-ish, avant hip hop record, this one by the Portland (ME!) produceer Alias....It ran in yesterday's Blurt.


Fever Dream


Alias' sixth full-length layers gauzy, rainbow colored psychedelia over hard beats, moving in dream-like lucidity over intricate, improbably pretty landscapes. "I wish I could talk in Technicolor," whispers a child-like female (at the beginning of a song named "Talk in Technicolor") and, if the Anticon co-founder hasn't learned to talk in day-glo, he has certainly figured out how to cloak his beats in shimmering, color-shifting auras.

If Sole's last album was all about the clever phrase and Serengeti's about the emotionally-charged short-story, Alias seems primarily concerned with rhythm and texture. These cuts nearly all include some kind of sampled vocal, a phrase snipped from context and repeated, yet the art is nearly all in the arrangements that frame them - the blossoming clusters of bright keyboards, the sharpness of drum fill, the syncopated slush of open high-hat closing shut. Alias' beats simultaneously float and snap, their airy flourishes and wordless tonal fills drifting through like daydreams over an emphatic, very physical series of rhythms. Listen, for instance, to the way that "Wanna Let It Go" unspools, its ululating vocals, its tremolo'd keyboard accents dissolving into soul-slanted atmospheres, its ricocheting drum beat arguing for purpose, direction and forward movement. Consider "Fever Dreamin'" a fever dream, the body's basic processes - breathing, blood-pumping - going on in the rhythm, while the mind slips irresistibly into the stratosphere. Some tracks are more grounded than others; "Dahorses" makes a body-shaking rhythm out of clipped, reconfigured and repeated male voice sounds, while "Lady Lambin'" floats diaphanously, spectrally, disconnectedly over a snare-shot beat - but all layer a surreal sheen over corporeal foundation.


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