Niggas on the moon is a new recording by Death Grips—MC Ride, Zach Hill and Andy Morin—whose earlier work I found yawn-worthy mostly because their experimentalism seemed predictable. Here, draped in the comfiture of a cacophony compounded by collaboration with Venusian emissary Bjork, the whole crew is on to something that, while not always altogether listenable, presents an allatonceness that's alluring and bears repeated listening. This eight-track epic begins with “Up My Sleeves,” a crashing, relentless track with frightening, hallucinatory power. It seems odd to apply the term “psychedelic” to hip-hop, but in the case of niggas, it’s apt, though this isn’t hippie music; blunt references to sex and violence preclude that. While the lyrics speak directly to the African-American experience, as on “Black Quarterback,” the musical methodologies employed are reminiscent of acid-drenched, tape-splicing excursions of left coast and Brit rock outfits of yore; “Say Hey Kid” is glitchy enough to have the Thom Yorke seal of approval. Editor’s note: Download it as .zip —for free!—here.
Shouty Vancouver rock outfit White Lung opens a slithery glam-punk crevasse on third release Deep Fantasy and dives right in with blazing guitars and head-banging hair jobs. Diggable chunks on this record include the trebly, feedback-laced “Face Down” and the chaos-inducing thrash fest called “Drown with the Monster.” “Snake Jaw,” also featured on this virtual trip to the ultimate fantasy mosh pit, has an X-like frantic flavor to it, though all sped-up. Vocalist Mish Way doesn’t seem angry; she is thrilled on this collection of two-minute manifestos, and Anne-Marie Vassiliou’s guitar playing adds to a triumphant tone that’s complimented by Kenneth William’s sharp percussive architecture. Darlings of the regional Northwest punk underground, White Lung has the capability to bust out of DIY obscurity and into the mainstream with this album; let’s hope the disdain displayed on Deep Fantasy keeps them from drowning with that monster.
Drew Daniel of Matmos fronts The Soft Pink Truth. On the rhetorically titled Why Do the Heathens Rage?, Daniel deconstructs black metal, covering a host of genre standards in a recording so personally inflected it’s difficult to imagine it being aimed at anyone besides the artists involved. Flawlessly, seamlessly precise in its combined celebration and indictment of all that the darkest of metal has to offer, Why Do the Heathens Rage? offers reimagined versions of just about everything notable in the plutonium-laden universe where such sounds were originally spawned, from Mayhem’s “Buried by Time and Dust” to Venom’s titular “Black Metal.” Daniel and his various collaborators take the whole of the enterprise rather seriously and critically, stripping away conventions of genre to reveal uncomfortable truths and musical revelations transformed by the artists’ inclination toward electronica. The only problem here comes from mixing pink with black; sometimes the result is a shade of gray that’s sharp yet somehow unsatisfying.