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cLOUDDEAD (2001), 7.5/10
Ten (2004), 7/10
Odd Nosdam: Level Live Wires (2007), 6/10
Subtle: A New White (2004), 6.5/10
Subtle: For Hero For Fool (2006), 7/10
Subtle: Exiting Arm (2008), 6/10

cLOUDDEAD was a trio of white hip-hop artists from the Oakland-based "Anticon" collective: producer Odd Nosdam (David Madson), and rappers Adam "Doseone" Drucker and Yoni "why?" Wolf.

Doseone and Why? had previously formed Greenthink in Oakland in 1998. The group released Blindfold (self-released, 1999 - A Purple 100, 2002). Deep Puddle Dynamics was a collaboration among Sole, Alias, Doseone and Slug, documented on The Taste of Rain (Anticon, 1999).

The six-movement cLOUDDEAD (Mush, 2001), originally released as six 10" singles (recorded between 1998 and 2000), offers hip-hop distorted through the lenses of a dystopian vision or through the nervous breakdown of an urban werewolf. The sound effects (which constitute the core, not just the periphery, of the music) are even reminiscent of Brian Eno's ambient music and Throbbing Gristle's industrial music. This was hip-hop's equivalent of Frank Zappa's We're Only In It For The Money. The variety and eclicticism of the rapping voices (and the loose congregation that they form) is matched by a plethora of musical ideas, ranging from the lugubrious drones of Apt A (1) to the ethereal psychedelic languor of Apt A (2). And All You Can Do Is Laugh (2) is a mini-concerto for orchestral and vocal samples, electronic noise and dissonant instruments. I Promise Never To Get Paint On My Glasses Again (1) blends dub-like backbeats, pow-wow drums and funereal trumpet drones (and the string melody of Moody Blues' Nights In White Satin), while I Promise Never To Get Paint On My Glasses Again (2) tears everything to pieaces in an otherworldly vortex of voices and electronics. The two sides of JimmyBreeze constitute a free-form collage bordering on Dadaistic provocation. (Cloud Dead Number Five) (1) is an atmospheric electronic poem in the vein of Klaus Schulze's cosmic music, while (Cloud Dead Number Five) (2) is another free-form collage of sounds with a steady industrial beat. Bike (1) borders on musique concrete and Bike (2) is, finally, a piece focused on the vocals (ranging from rap rigmarole to campfire singalong). The rappers often emerge (rather casually) out of a cloud of sounds. The "casual" and "loose" approach are precisely what makes Clouddead so revolutionary. They downplay both the hip-hop beats and the rap vocals.

Circle (2001) is a collaboration between Doseone (Adam Drucker) and Boom Bip.

cLOUDDEAD disbanded after Ten (2004), an album that was even less related to hip-hop. This is how Pere Ubu would have sounded, had they listened to hip-hop instead of punk-rock.
Pop Song 5:47
The Keen Teen Skip 5:19
Rhymer's Only Room 2:23
The Velvet Ant 2:49
Son of a Gun 5:48
Rifle Eyes 3:53
Dead Dogs Two 3:59
3 Twenty 3:01
Physics of a Unicycle 4:16
Our Name

Themselves was a project by Doseone and producer Jel that released Them (2000) and The No Music (2002), which sound like a post-modernist rewriting of the canon of funk and soul music.

On his own Odd Nosdam (David Madson), who had already released the collage-oriented instrumental albums Reject (2001), Le Mixtape (2001) and No More Wig for Ohio (2002), tried to bridge hip-hop and shoegazing on Burner (Anticon, 2005), at times sounding like a psychedelic version of Dalek. Burner sounded like powerful (albeit cryptic) meditations on the nature of sound and the way it interacts with the human mind. The very fact that Nosdam stuck to relatively obsolete technology instead of fully adopting the digital age sent a message about connecting with a society that was still largely dominated by analog devices. A few guests animate the abstract tapestries of Level Live Wires (Anticon, 2007), notably Jessica Bailiff in Fat Hooks and TV On the Radio's Tunde Adebimpe in The Kill Tone Two. Some of the vignettes are original and engaging: Kill Tone, that blends neoclassical harp and piano, the abstract electronic poem Freakout 3, the psychedelic mantra Fat Hooks (steady beat, soaring hymn-like vocals), the blurred electronic lullaby Up In Flames, the droning Off. But too many of the other pieces are pointless or mere repetitions.

Jonathan "Why" Wolf, on the other hand, turned to piano ballads on his solo debut Elephant Eyelash (2005).

(Translation by/ Tradotto da Mario Aloe)

cLOUDDEAD erano un trio hip-hop di artisti bianchi, che facevano parte del collettivo »Anticon : il producer Odd Nosdam(David Madson), ed i rappers Adam « Doseone »Drucker e Yoni «Why ?» Wolf. L’esordio in sei movimenti  

cLOUDDEAD (Mush, 2001), uscito in precedenza come un 10"( registrato tra il 1998 ed il 2000), ci offre una visione distorta dell’hip-hop attraverso uno sguardo distopico o attraverso l’esaurimento nervoso di un lupo mannaro di città. Gli effetti sonori( per una volta al centro della musica) spesso ricordano l’ambient di Brian Eno e la musica industriale dei Throbbing Gristle. Il disco é stato l’equivalente dell’hip-hop di „We’re only in it for the money" di Frank Zappa o „Ummagumma" die Pink Floyd.

"Circle"(2001) é una collaborazione tra Doseone ( Adam Drucker) e Bomm Bip.

cLOUDDEAD si sono sciolti dopo »Ten »(2004), un album ancora meno hip-hop del precedente. E’ cosi’che avrebbero suonato i Pere Ubu se avessero ascoltato hip-hop al posto del punk.

cLOUDDEAD sono piu’vicini ai Notwist che ad El-P.

Themselves é un progetto di Doseone e del producer Jel; insieme hanno registrato "Them"(2000) e "The no music"(2002); entrambi i dischi suonano come un’aggiornamento dei canoni del funk e del soul.

Odd Nosdam, dal suo canto, con "Burner" (Anticon, 2005) ha creato un ponte tra l’hip-hop e lo shoegazing.

Madson ha preceduto questo disco con alcuni albums strumentali: Reject (2001), Le Mixtape (2001) e No More Wig for Ohio (2002). Ed é un po’ come ascoltare una versione psichedelica dei Dalek.

Burner, dicevamo. Madison s’interroga qui sulla natura del suono e su come esso interagisca con la mente umana. Il semplice fatto che Nosdam preferisca esprimersi con una tecnologia obsoleta invece che quella moderna digitale ci lascia andare col pensiero all’epoca precedente, cioé quell’epoca dominata da strumenti analogici.

Di due anni piu’ tardi, Level Live Wires (Anticon, 2007), é invece meno criptico. Alcuni ospiti ne animano i contenuti: Jessica Bailiff in Fat Hooks e Tunde Adebimpe dei TV On the Radio in The Kill Tone Two. Alcuni altri pezzi sono originali e colorati, e conquistano: Kill Tone, ad esempio, costruito su arpa neoclassica e pianoforte ; e il poema elettronico Freakout 3 ; poi il mantra psichedelico per ritmo cadenzato e voci svettanti Fat Hooks; la ninna nanna fuori fuoco Up In Flames e la dronata Off.

Tuttavia, a parte questi episodi, il resto del disco é un po’ ripetitivo e prolisso ed alcune parti risultano francamente inutili.

Why, da parte sua, si da’alle ballate per pianoforte nel suo debutto solista"Elepahant Eyelash"(2005).

Subtle was a sextet fronted by Doseone and featuring guitarist Jordan Dalrymple, keyboardist Dax Pierson, clarinetist Marty Dowers, cellist Alexander Kort and electronic percussionist Jeffrey "Jel" Logan. Despite the jazz-like line-up, A New White (Lex, 2004) was devoted to progressive funk-rock fusion with a fixation for the catchy Sixties but an attitude that evokes a grotesque music-hall with cartoonish vocals in the vein of the Residents (I Love L.A., Song Meat) that get progressively more demented (Silence, The Long Vein Of the Law). Only F.K.O. is truly "rapping" in a conventional manner. She has a bit of rapping but it's mostly a lunatic Dadaistic ballet. Further variety is provided by the ambient spaced-out vignettes such as Red Wine and Blonde and The Hook.

Having mastered the technique of mixing beats and dense textures, Subtle interjected psychedelic, glitch, illbient, hip-hop, industrial, pop and even atonal chamber music into Doseone's frantic, demented, acrobatic rapping on the better choreographed For Hero For Fool (Astralwerks, 2006), highlighted by three completely different creations: the propulsive industrial rap of A Tale of Apes I, the guitar-rock song Middleclass Stomp, and the exuberant syncopated singalong The Mercury Craze. The construction of these pieces is always meticulous. Bed To The Bills displays rap anger amid electronic chaos and irregular drumming. The seven-minute Call to Dive is a psychodrama that begins in the shrill/falsetto tone of the first album but mutates into a tragic rap over street noise and harsh industrial beats. The nine-minute The Ends is a collage of possible songs more than a song itself, a mini-operetta that dissipates in a volley of blurred drones. Subtle's third album Exiting Arm (2008) suffers a bit from an indulgence of mannerism, despite being perhaps more melodic than the first two Subtle albums. This trilogy of concept albums chronicles the life of a rapper, Hour Hero Yes.

13 & Gods/t (Anticon, 2005) was a collaboration between Notwist and Themselves (Doseone, Dax, Jel).

Themselves returned with Crownsdown (2009), a much less inspired work.

Meanwhile, Yoni Wolf devoted his energies to his project Why?.

(Translation by/ Tradotto da xxx)

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