(Copyright © 1999-2024 Piero Scaruffi | Terms of use )
Negro Necro Nekros (1998), 7/10
From Filthy Tongue of Gods and Griots (2002), 7/10
Absence (2004), 7/10
Abandoned Language (2007), 6.5/10
Gutter Tactics (2009), 7/10
Untitled (2010), 7.5/10

(Clicka qua per la versione Italiana)

New Jersey's Dalek (the project of rapper Will Brooks and producer Alap "Oktopus" Momin) delivered a baroque pop-psychedelic version of Public Enemy's creative chaos with the five lengthy songs of Negro Necro Nekros (Gern Blandsten, 1998). Layers of instruments and a general philosophy of therapeutic discontinuity yielded a dystopian soundscape (crafted by Momin and dj Rudy "Rek" Chicata) in which the message (assuming that one could make out the lyrics) was much less important than the vehicle. Swollen Tongue Burns is a sonic nightmare, the voice hit and submerged by booming percussion, industrial-degree electronic effects, orchestral crescendos, acoustic blues detours, dissonant vertigoes. The mini-album juxtaposed disorienting instrumental passages (notably the Indian jam of the tortured Three Rocks Blessed) with arrangements in the vein of El-P's productions (the dissonant multi-stylistic collage of voice and instruments of Praise Be The Man). The more regular pieces were the atmospheric ballad Images of .44 Casings (that extended to ten minutes via a calm instrumental repetition of its leitmotiv) and the jazzy The Untravelled Road. Dalek thrived halfway between the neurotic and the transcendental, the same way that industrial music did in the late 1970s.

Having replaced Chicata with dj Hsi-Chang "Still" Lin, Dalek increased the doses of neurosis and alienation on From Filthy Tongue of Gods and Griots (Ipecac, 2002), which now resembled a series of essays on shock-inducing sounds. Focusing on generally shorter songs helped Dalek achieve a combat cohesiveness not registered since Tackhead (Spiritual Healing, whipped by harsh electronic distortions, the booming polyrhythm of From Mole Hills, the metallic clangor of Hold Tight, and especially the turbulent electronic soundscape of Voices Of The Ether). The electronic ethnic ambient noise hodgepodge peaks with the twelve-minute acid delirium of Black Smoke Rises, a free-form parade of wildly dissonant sounds underpinning the rapper's free-form poetry. Simpler structures craft the tragic overtones of Speak Volumes and the soaring psychedelic hymn of Forever Close My Eyes. Last but not least, Trampled Brethren was another attemp at raga-rap fusion.

Ruin It was a collaboration with Kid 606; and Derbe Respect Alder (2003) was a collaboration with Faust.

Absence (Ipecac, 2004) is another spectacular journey through Dalek's post-industrial wasteland: explosive like a shrapnel (notably Distorted Prose and Eyes To Form Shadows), dense like a lava flow (Asylum), and, still, elegant like a peacock's tail. Tracks such as A Beast Caged Opiate the Masses and especially In Midst of Struggle provide for a multi-dimensional experience, encompassing Throbbing Gristle's industrial nightmares,, Gordon Mumma's electronic symphonies, Lou Reed's metal-machine music, Otomo Yoshihide's turntable noise, and, last but not least, Public Enemy's agit-prop raps; while Ever Somber manages to sound infectious (if not downright catchy) in virtue of the surgical balance between rhythms, rhyming and arrangements. Koner is the "out of space" instrumental du jour.

Dalek's turntablist Hsi-Chang "Still" Lin has released an album of eerie soundscapes, Remains (Public Guilt, 2005).

Oktopus' magic production touch is downplayed on Abandoned Language (Ipecac, 2007), that sounds like a much more traditional hip-hop album, despite the ten-minute subdued ambient-like excursus Abandoned Language with its almost symphonic finale. Oktopus had his own (harsh, dissonant) language. Dalek is now limited to one language, the rapper's language. The more disturbing aspects of the collaboration are gone. Too often Oktopus' production merely emphasizes the MC's lyrics, instead of providing a true counterpoint. The notable exceptions are Bricks Crumble, emboldened by a pulsing syncopated digital rhythm and psychedelic droning keyboards, Content To Play Villain, enveloped in a Robert Wyatt-ian instrumental horns-heavy wall of sound, the sleepy Afro-funk shuffle Isolated Stare, in which the rap pops up only at the end, and the wordless dissonant chamber music of Lynch. Some of the duo's psychological power is lost in the process. In a sense, this is the album that allows them to ponder and allows their listeners to rest, after a deluge of shock therapies and violent traumas.

Deadverse Massive Vol. 1 (2007) collects rarities from 1999-2006.

Gutter Tactics (Ipecac, 2009), the second album without turntablist Hsi-Chang "Still" Lin, boasts a sound that owes more to heavy metal, shoegazing rock and industrial music than to hip-hop traditions, thanks to a meaner Oktopus and evil contributions by friends. Dalek samples a preacher (ranting about all the evils of USA intervention in the world) in the overture Blessed Are They Who Bash Your Children's Heads Against A Rock, and nails his emphatic political sermon against a wall of musique concrete. No Question exudes booming hard-rock vibrations and envelops them in floating gritty electronic drones. Combined with hypnotic tribal percussion and gargantuan vocals, the electronics is even more disorienting in Armed with Krylon, a new artistic peak. The bacchanal has psychological meaning. For example, the dramatic overtones of Street Diction are accentuated by cascading tinkling metallic noises. There is actually little to Los Macheteros / Spear Of A Nation than a rhythm that mutates from terrifying banging to pow-wow dance: that "is" the meaning of the piece. The static nightmare of Gutter Tactics creates pure tension.
The hypnotic effect of these raps gets amplified many times in Who Medgar Evers Was thanks to a swampy beat and a swam of elongated distortions. This eight-minute piece borders on concerto-grade structure. Along the way it acquires industrial-style metronomy and mind-bending dissonances. Atypical Stereotype is another complex sound painting that piles up high-volume sound effects.
By comparison the calmer shuffle of We Lost Sight, with its counterpoint of simple keyboard patterns, sounds like paradisiac easy-listening music.
The album loses much of its extenuating power in the second half, but the first half alone is enough to justify its grandeur.

Untitled (Latitudes, 2010) is a 44-minute piece originally recorded in 2005. The rap begins and immediately drowns in a shapeless vortex of sound, a soft murky lysergic raga-like slightly dissonant and highly ipnotic structure that eventually rises to a mindblowing mix of tribal beat and guitar distortion, sort of Donovan's Hurdy Gurdy played over a Crash Worship orgy. This soars into an anthemic space-rock figure with Middle-Eastern overtones, which then implodes leaving behind only a feeble bubbling radiation.

(Copyright © 2003 Piero Scaruffi | Terms of use )
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