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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
From Filthy Tongue of Gods and Griots
Ipecac Records

Rating: 9.2/10 ?


October 1, 2004
Great albums start with great songs, and like the air raid sirens shattering the tranquil night of London as der Fuhrer's bombs rained down, the platters of DJ Still ring out through "Spiritual Healing", extolling the onslaught of audio bombs and wicked-slick verse dropped by Oktopus and Dälek, respectively. The destruction spills over into "Speak Volumes" and as Dälek asks "What the fuck happened?" and we're not quite sure how to answer, it quickly becomes evident that an aural blitzkrieg is in progress.

Heavy, meditative, atmospheric, powerful and experimental beyond the term "genre-bender", the eleven tracks of From Filthy Tongue of Gods and Griots course like a runaway steam roller for fifty minutes, laying waste to the most pristine moments of the new-school Def Jux style with more of an industrial (think Skinny Puppy) flavor; scholarly verse scaling a sheer wall of fucked up sonic bombast.

Fresh off of collaborations with Faust, Techno Animal and Kid606, Dälek emerge with a brilliant follow up to the fast and furious Negro Necro Nekros, their debut for Gern Blandsten that was nearly revolutionary back in 1998. It was a long time coming - rumors had them waiving off offers from the financially strapped Matador last year - but whatever the reason for the wait it was more than worth it; in the duration of From Filthy Tongue of Gods and Griots Dälek drop what is arguably the best overall album of this year and maybe the century thus far. Skeptical? In the density of "... from Mole Hills", as Still's scratches infuse every bone in your body with animation, I dare you to defy this album's greatness.

For track upon track this album lays waste to any artistic preconceptions, infusing syrupy underground hip hop with rapid-fire IDM sequences, atmospheric layers of melody and a course, scholarly street intellect. In the headphones "Hold Tight" is overwhelming and "Voices of the Ether" opens with the more traditional East Coast beats of Dälek's earlier work, the hard-hitting breaks bolstered by the cold steel curtain of sampled and pureed noise dropped by Oktopus and Still. The polyester track-suit beats split and weave enough for eastern rhythms to work their way into the mix, perfectly balancing the trio's perspective between their urban Newark base and the world at large with which they relate and in which they operate (the first time I caught the group live was four years ago in Germany).

"Forever Close My Eyes", follows "Voices of Ether" in a way that perfectly illustrates Dälek's versatility - it is both starkly contrasting and perfectly complimentary. The track winks at the trippy, layered avante-guard guitar work many old-schoolers know as "Frippertronics," referenced from the Fripp/Eno collaborations of the early 1970s. It is lush to the point of intoxication, with organs riding in a smooth wax and wane as the guitar arpeggios flitter about. The pall of sounds curl around Dälek's subdued lyrics of despair and loss: "My yesterdays don't matter now, they're gone/ Your careless expression left my wrists torn", he states matter-of-factly, resuming with "Yesterdays don't matter now, you're gone/ Shattered glass of empty bottles cut my palms".

From Filthy Tongue of Gods and Griots is like a great film - the more times you run through it the more you uncover, from the mutated, multi-headed beast of "Heads" through the closing "Classical Homicide" that resonates an hour later like a sucker punch to the throat. There are a lot of elements to digest over the course of this album, and as a result it will probably be too overwhelming for a lot of people to understand. But for those who can stand up and face the speakers, there is a world of amazing sonic sculpture and potent verse in this album. It is going to take a hurricane of hell fire and brimstone to supplant From Filthy Tongue of Gods and Griots at the top of my year-end Best Of list.

Reviewed by Eric J Herboth
Eric J. Herboth is the founder, publisher and Managing Editor of LAS magazine. He is a magazine editor, freelance writer, bike mechanic, commercial pilot, graphic designer, International Scout enthusiast and giver of the benefit of the doubt. He currently lives in rural central Germany with his two best friends, dog Awahni and cat Scout.

See other reviews by Eric J Herboth

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