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[02.21.2011 by Bridget Doyle]

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 » The Top 30 Albums of 2010 - Fashionably, fabulously late, our favorite music (and believe me, there was a LOT) of 2010, the year that some have called the best year for music ever. And only some of those fools work here. Plenty of usual suspects, lots of ties and a few surprises that I won't spoil, including our unexpected #1.
[12.24.2010 by The LAS Staff]

MUSIC

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[11.04.2010 by Cory Tendering]

Music Reviews

Screaming Females - Castle Talk
»Screaming Females
Castle Talk
Don Giovanni
Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross - The Social Network [Original Soundtrack]
»Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross
The Social Network [Original Soundtrack]
The Null Corporation
Deerhunter - Halcyon Digest
»Deerhunter
Halcyon Digest
4AD
No Age - Everything in Between
»No Age
Everything in Between
Sub Pop
Robyn - Body Talk Pt. 1/ Body Talk Pt. 2
»Robyn
Body Talk Pt. 1/ Body Talk Pt. 2
Konichiwa
The Walkmen - Lisbon
»The Walkmen
Lisbon
Fat Possum
Dälek
Absence
Ipecac

Rating: 10/10 ?


March 25, 2005
Inspired by the political turmoil happening both here in the U.S. and abroad Dälek continue to mature and sharpen their skills on their sophomore release for Ipecac, Absence. An even more ominous and aggressive mood prevails on Absence. Dälek's dissatisfaction with the current political administration and political system in general become very clear in Brooks' spoken poetry; however, his rage is limited to just politics as he continues to attack organized religion, racism, classism, and the underlying hypocrisy that is so prevalent in today's society.

Shining through all of this doom and gloom is DJ Still's increased presence on Absence. His cuts and scratches rise to the surface and are more of a feature than they have been in the past, and shows his true talent on the turntables. Oktopus's production is as angry as it ever has been, his beats throb and pulse through the swirling noise and chaos that ensues on each track. More so than any album Dälek has released so far, Absence is truly a wall of sound that does not give in throughout the length of the album

But it's Dälek's maturity in putting all of elements together that makes Absence shine, not since My Bloody Valentine has a band but together anything as layered or as dense. And this is still a hip-hop album, one daring enough to feature two instrumental tracks in a genre based around lyrics and rhymes. Brooks has said in the past that at times the music says more than he ever could and the proof is here on tracks like "Absence" and "Koner," which enhance the mood created on the 10-track release.

On past albums, Brooks' lyrics have been ethereal and abstract as he tackled his subjects as a truly great poet. Brooks finds his purpose and direction on Absence, taking on subjects head-on without apology, attacking religion, racism, classism, and politics. On "A Beast Caged" Brooks goes straight for the White House, "I grow tired of tyrants passed as presidents/ Evidence of theft swept under the oval carpet/ As inmates and children kept starving/ True criminals walk free with presidential pardon" and the policy of the current administration "Shattered lineage from land of US sanctions/ Indebted servants to democracy/ Feed their families with mere pennies/ There's that truth you seek/ Knew you wasn't ready." On "Culture for Dollars" Brooks slams the present state of hip-hop culture permeating today's youth and corrupting those that listen and believe, "Perceived battles only held to sell albums/ Propagate stereotypes that bleed out us/ Our own doubt us/ But I remain devout scholar of skills of forefathers/ Ignorance was forced on us/ Define honest, if we all breath diseased lies/ Define the MC if all he spits are weak lines/ Who trades in his culture for dollars?/ The fool or the scholar?/ Griot? Poet? Or white collared?" Later on "In the Midst of the Struggle" Brooks calls out the listeners that aren't really listening to what's being said only looking for dancehall beats, "Frail orators narrate own demise with reverb drenched rhymes/ As uncivilized eyes focus on torn moral fabric/ Deaf ears fall tuned to static."

Brooks' ability to convey his understanding and belief that today's culture glosses over cultural and societal problems; looking for quick fixes and ignoring and failing to really deal with any of these problems makes him that much more of a potent and dangerous MC. On "Distrorted Prose" he attacks the fact that racism is still very alive today in this country even though many would overlook it, "Make our leaders play minstrel/ Left with none to lead our people/ How the fuck am I gonna shake your hand, when we never been seen as equals?/ Deemed evil by those housed in church steeples" and later "Answers seem visible when visionless/ Useless souls fold under pressure like hands pray to false Jesus." For Brooks truth is in perception and he lays out the perception of one man off the street who isn't eating the bullshit he feels he's being fed by the media, the politicians or pulpit. Instead of looking the other way Brooks chooses to speak out and speak his mind. In a country where the vision of a big brother becomes more and more real, voices such as Brooks' need to become louder and louder, challenging what looks to be a more and more entrenched status quo.

Dälek's most accessible track comes second to last with "Ever Somber" as the wall of sounds begins to form something similar to a melody and the noise transforms from intrusive to a more guiding verse. While accessible, Brooks still makes the listener think with "Considered quite embittered by whole corrupt system/ Bled fist in attempt when words weren't heard/ Never one to feel blessed beliefs are all blurred." The beauty of Brooks' words, protests and calls to action is that he never lives exactly in the present. Inspired by what is going on around him, Brooks takes his inspiration and turns his words into timeless warnings; mixing current culture with classic symbolism and lessons of a time long passed that we seem reluctant to learn. "Success lasts for seconds/ Our future's forsaken (never found reason)/ Blatant lies of Bourgeois (never found meaning)."

Dälek closes Absence with "Opiate the Masses" a title taken from Karl Marx describing how those in power blind the people to the truths of what is really happening in society. Brooks opens with "Blasphemous breath remains accurate/ Context of text lost its core concepts/ Who speaks our truth?/ Convicts or prophets?" He continues to call blind religious fanaticism into question regardless of the religion or the continent, "Blind faith forms fanatical combat/ Speech figured deep as the learned adapt/ Papal armies poised for attack, well in fact.../ Your precious books written by hands of human/ This Christian Jihad will bleed the poor man/ Beliefs and ideas can't stand congruent/ Morality myths kept the common mind ruined." Dälek's straight out assault on organized religion continues "The role of religion in the domination and the destruction/ Of African civilization,/ Is so shameful..." Followed with the verse and close "Opiate masses/ Knowledge kept backwards/ Religion organized gave rise to ill factors:/ Genocide from Genesis to last chapter/ Concealed the fact the man Jesus was Black(er)"

The frustration that the whole of Dälek feels with the current situation is very evident on Absence. But it's Dälek's maturity and ability to turn that anger and frustration into well thought out poetry and dense musical creations instead of temper tantrums that make them so effective as a group. Expanding hip-hop as a genre is the goal, however, Dälek go so far beyond just expanding boundaries, they have created a classic protest album in a day where true protest albums are becoming fewer and farther between. As much anger as Dälek spits throughout Absence, Oktopus and DJ Still back him up with outstanding performances behind the computer, sequencer and the turntables. This isn't an album to turn a blind cheek to, even if Dälek's views upset; his honest and intelligent lyrics are a delight in a world where insight seems to be a lost art.

Reviewed by Craig Mertes
Craig lives, works and listens to music in the general vicinity of Orlando, Florida, where he absorbs everything from hip-hop to indie, pop, rock, punk and metal. His all time favs include Hum, Clutch, Dismemberment Plan, and the Reverend Horton Heat. The last we heard, Craig was spinning Vast Aire, Soul Position, Blues Explosion, Motörhead, the Blood Brothers and Dead Meadow. Craig is also a life-long, die-hard Cubs fan, so lay off.

See other reviews by Craig Mertes

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