Alibi V.28 No.16 • April 18-24, 2019 

Sonic Reducer

Def-i Dream Trails (Self-released)

Def-i is a mature rapper with a toolbelt that is as complex as it is complete. Dude’s new album Dream Trails gives solid indications of that condition from the magical musical flowering of the first track, “High Hopes,” a work that mixes up laconic strummed snippets of melody poured over a rapid fire confessionalism. It’s difficult but daring work, shattering the molds of what’s current in hip-hop with deft desire for change, even in the structure of the music and flow that guides a movement. On profoundly epic cruises like track six, “Help Me Breathe,” the artist slips into another dimension that is as smooth as it is otherworldly, a theme that is developed with glitchy grandeur and syncopation with an R&B inflection on the eighth track “Multiverse feat. E-Turn.” The record crests joyfully on the tenth track, “Running feat. Voice of Honey,” and then continues to ride a wave both deep and dank back to the reaches of the Earth.

Much removed from the youthful party time musings of the new, next generation of local rappers, Def-i’s journey is the authentic voice of a known poet who makes pictures of his words with music from the other side. The production on this effort is so damn good you can practically taste the tuneful instrumental choices; the vocalizing on number nine, “Keep Truth feat. Ami Kim” are easily angelic and boundlessly beatific. As the artist said, my heartbeat is increasing.

Robert Bruce Jackson Caruthers Untitled (Self-released)

The best indie pop has odd tunings, funky chords, flat singing by a nerdy outsider and hooks that will kill just about any form of evil available for listeners or rock critics around the world. If you doubt the reality of that maxim, then I have a few words for you. Those words are Daniel Johnston, Guided By Voices, They Might Be Giants, Regina Spektor and Carl Petersen.

Though Petersen pretty much has dibs on Burque’s quirky but killer crown, the mastermind behind the Ant Farmers now has some competition. A local fellow by the name of Robert Bruce Jackson Caruthers just released an untitled collection of tuneage that rubbed me the wrong way and made me fall out of my chair whilst listening to this demon of a record at work. JK. This stuff rocks, and the tracks that are the best are sometimes so wonderfully awkward that I do wonder if they might cause seizures or instant death in others because of the suspended fifths. I’m talking about totally excellent, darkly beautiful pop gems like “The Ballad of the Sad Apartment,” “Camping” and “Roadside Attraction.” Get this album and listen to it but don’t blame me if you are happy for a little while afterward.