Death Grips – The Powers that B

N*ggas on the Moon Credits:Jenny Death Credits:

Album Information:

Released in 2015 on Third Worlds/Harvest

Format: LPx2


Review:

If the scattered sound barrage of N***as on the Moon (disc 1 of The Powers that B) sounds like the percussive onslaught of Zack Hill’s drumming, that’s because it is. Rather than being programmed and quantized, all of the instrumentation on the entire album was loaded onto Zack Hill’s Roland V-Drums so that he could do what he does best: hit things with sticks like a primal madman, only now instead of just drum sounds he’s playing synths, vocal samples, and a variety industrial noises. Even as percussion samples, Bjork’s vocals are deeply expressive and form the emotional backbone of the entire album; different patches of Bjork samples seem to be the primary indication of track changes and emotional shifts, making the album sound more like a 31-minute IDM club-rap mix from hell than 8 separate ideas.

While NotM is more of an anomaly, Jenny Death (disc 2) feels like a natural evolution in Death Grips’ aim of making “accelerated music”. The addition of live instrumentation (including organ, bass, and the colorful psychedelic guitar tones of Tera’s Melos’ Nick Reinhardt) make this album their most multi-dimensional and organic-sounding release yet. The songs themselves seem to have more structure than ever before, with industrial beats developing into punk riffs and math rock anthems turning into acid-drenched organ jams. MC Ride is also at his most expressive here, ranging from eerie whispers to paranoid rampages and many levels in between; his lyrics tend to be even more polarized, where hedonistic mania can turn to melancholic disillusion with “real life” at the drop of a dime.


Recommended to anyone looking for extremely primal, complex punk rap with a wide range of influences, including industrial hip-hop, IDM, math rock, noise, and psychedelic rock. Fans of experimental, aggressive hip-hop like Dälek or Public Enemy will probably really dig this, as will fans of math rock that will enjoy the extremely innovative musicianship and intricate interplay of Death Grips’/Hella’s Zack Hill and Tera Melos’ Nick Reinhart (who plays on 5 of the tracks).

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