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Boomkat Product Review:
Hip Hop, I’m pretty sure we’ve all forgotten about just how good it can be when people take the genre into the underground and manage not to screw it up in the process. We’ve had it done before, Company Flow being one of the most shining examples, but in recent years the production-line of bland pseudo-experimental hiphop has bored more than it has confounded us. Dälek however have always had something that little bit special - with an East Coast sensibility linking them to the old-school, and an ability to push their sound into the outer realms of screaming noise they have practically forged their own genre. ‘Abandoned Language’ is their fourth album and comes after the loss of their DJ and noise-maker Still, now they are pared down to the duo of emcee dälek (confusing huh?) and producer Oktopus and to be quite honest they’ve never sounded so focused. Their last full-length ‘Absence’ was a triumph of noise over music, proof that hip-hop didn’t need to adhere to any set of rules and proof also that El-P had only taken the sound so far, yet ‘Abandoned Language’ reigns the sound in again, pushing the beats ‘n samples sound of their earlier work once more to the fore. This is no bad thing either, the noise is still there but it is contained for sparing use, the resulting tracks being closer to the mysterious and ghostly mood of David Lynch than to an ear-battering Wolf Eyes style assault. This is represented instantly by the album’s opener ‘Abandoned Language’ a ten minute monster of a track; dälek’s rhymes are tighter and more cerebral than ever, and dusty beats hold together discordant atmospheres and spooky feedback-laced soundscapes. Gradually harmonies and fragments of melody grow over the bubbling noise echoing in some ways the work of Delia Derbyshire and her Radiophonic contemporaries, yet containing the overriding decomposing power of Boards of Canada. It’s not the first time hip-hop and skewed electronics have been joined in this way but Dälek manage it in a way that few others can, giving their tracks credibility and power on the way. The real highlight for me is ‘Paragraphs Relentless’, which stands as one of the band’s heaviest tracks to date – a blistering collision of sickening beatplay and killer, abrasive samples. Morphing electronic wails drown out the chorus perfectly coming across like some kind of alternate soundtrack to American Psycho – at the same time dangerous yet sophisticated with it. Dälek may not have breached the mainstream yet with their devastating sonic concoctions, but ‘Abandoned Language’ is their most coherent and mind-melting statement to date – maybe experimental hip-hop has a chance after all? Simply devastating.