Dälek - Endangered Philosophies

by Sean Hewson Rating:8 Release Date:2017-09-01

Dälek, the Experimental Hip-Hop band from New Jersey, have made a career out of breaking down boundaries. Their 2005 album, Absence, was closer to Loveless than most Nu-gaze bands can get. On Endangered Philosophies (their eighth album), they are using source material recorded by Metz (also about to release a new album).

The single, Echoes Of…, starts with churning guitar noise. A slow, but heavy beat comes in, followed by MC dälek, raging as ‘the vilest men corrupt so we refuse to keep silent.’ The vocals are buried in the noise and sampled voices drop in and out. It is a magnificent, startling attack through sound, beats and vocals. And it’s classic Dälek. Weapons is more subdued and reflective. Quite psychedelic with its guitar sounds, lighter beat and clearer vocal (‘We gain perspective, we’ve all been off-message.’). A wailing, wavering, guitar loop starts Few Understand. Again, it is more subdued but still has constant noise, ghostly sounds and some dextrous work on the turntables by DJ rEk. The beat and bass are in from the start for Son Of Immigrants. The wall of guitar noise stitched together by Metz, Mike Manteca and rEk is louder now, more claustrophobic; reflecting the fear of life in Trump’s USA (or May’s Britain), however the Son of Immigrants’ ‘rise is imminent’. On Beyond The Madness the sound is the intense humming of evil (to quote The Manic Street Preachers). Perhaps prompted by the lyric – ‘Let’s stop pretending this breath is eternal’ – the track ends with the musical equivalent of breath. Sacrifice is quieter, constructed out of a few loops with MC dälek filling the lyric with internal rhymes and assonance. A slow, funky beat starts Nothing Stays Permanent. We are again wrapped in guitar noise and strange sounds. Throughout Endangered Philosophies, Dälek create their own sound world and let MC dälek roam through it. It’s a fucked, tense world where ‘time’s turbulent, nothing stays permanent’. A Collective Cancelled Thought rises through a torrent of Metz guitars, manipulated by Manteca. It’s seven minutes long and is an epic symphony of noise. The beat doesn’t come in for two minutes and there is no vocal until the last two minutes, so it’s mainly the beautiful sound of Metz being played by Dälek. Battlecries starts with what sounds like a sigh. It’s a slow, two-chord song with a chopped drum beat. It references Coltrane and Ian Curtis in case we didn’t realise the breadth of their influences from the sound of their songs. A wall of Kevin Shields-like sound appears beneath dälek's vocal. It’s a beautiful, resigned song. Straight Razors is a warm soup of guitars, light piano, samples, beats and lyrics before Endangered Philosophies finishes with Numb. The song itself starts with a fuzzed out guitar loop before MC dälek comes in with a State of the Union address - ‘this is gonna change you, this is gonna change me, this has gotta change.’ In between the verses it is all beautiful noise. The album closes with a ‘People Power’ chant.

Endangered Philosphies is a three-pronged attack: The wall of sound created by Metz, Mike Manteca and rEk; the dark, slow, heavy beats; and MC dälek's attack and rage. We’re deep in the shit but Dälek have the brains and ears to get us through, if not out. As they say on Son Of Immigrants, their ‘sound is infinite’.

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