I’m finding myself more enthralled with the holidays every year. In my neighborhood alone this year there was a tree lighting and I know it may sound pretty lame, and I’m sure it is in comparison to Rockefeller Centre, but they also had hot air balloons, great food, and sky divers dropping from airplanes! Yeah, I’m set for the holidaze but I’m feeling more like a kid when music was great and the season gave you the feels.
Now this right here is a complete fuckery of sound here and the guessing game is strong up on an 11, but the dial only reaches to 10. Even after reading the bio that came with the Cocaine Piss music, I’m left dumbfounded. What I do know is that Steve Albini was involved in the recording of what sounds like endless nights of debauchery and confusion. At just five tracks, My Cake (Hypertension Records) seems as muddled in genre-bending as Albini would be in Hip-Hop.
The problem? My Cake suffers from an identity crisis and all those listening as to where this is going. Don’t get me wrong though, things aren’t all bad here. The 45-second explosion of the title track leaves you wallowing in assumptions this is a complete punk enthused delivery with sung/howled vocals. I’m good with that as the song leads into “Pretty Pissed,” with more of the same and a drum pattern play that’ll have you bouncing off the walls, all the while guitars wailing away. Um, this is followed by three remixes of different tracks. “Inner Unicorn” is reminiscent of those early digital hardcore tracks by Atari Teenage Riot, while “Treehouse” takes a hard rock approach with wick-wick scratching and looped vocals. It ends with “Piñacolalove,” which opens sounding like Childish Gambino’s “This Is America,” which then turns towards the dance floor for inspiration. This one though, I’m less judgmental of for because of the dance party crave that’s done well, if modern-day house music was the underlying inspiration.
It seems Rob Sonic has always been the anomaly in the underbelly of Hip-Hop. There are a few things that are always consistent with Sonic, even from his earlier days with the NYC outfit Sonic Sum, and one of them was coming up with clever album titles. His solo releases like grabbed attention from the get-go and Defriender (Skypimps Music), derived from ‘defriend,’ term recently introduced into more than one dictionary this year (FACT!), is obviously no different. But this isn’t about conveying an idea of dexterity but what lies beneath.
Four years later, after Alice finally found balance in the Thunderdome, Rob is back. With a vengeance. There are interesting things about Sonic which makes his voice, for lack of a better term, distinctive. His drawl, inflection, and enunciation of every syllable will probably do that. But add a beat to it and you’re bound to get something that’s quite unique. From album to album, Rob has been consistent in writing & recording against the grain, moving in a direction that’s far removed from the mainstream but all the while remaining quite relevant with quick-tongued lyricism and dope beats.
“Honeymoon Suite” opens with thunderous Native American drums and chants before shifting into Rob’s creative wordplay that’s relentless over droning guitars that never moves away from just a few notes. But it doesn’t need more than that, trekking through murky waters of repetition without being repetitious. It seems to set the tone for “Air D&D” which immediately reels listeners with its deep bass line, again killing the repetitive beat with his words and a relentless beat that draws attention to the guitar notes that you’ll find yourself wanting more of. The song is without a doubt perfection fuckery in every sense of the word. Assumptions could be made, possibly the best track of the album, but it would only be an assumption. Musically he becomes playful with “Braids,” flexing dexterous wording all about with surprising harmonies. But this is where things turn…odd, and I say that with wide-eyed positivity. The unrelenting “Gums” holds a bizarro melody but it works to his benefit, with an easy flowing rhythm to go with his rhymes. Seems as if as soon as it starts, it’s over. Luckily, there’s more that lies beneath. Deep basslines and guitars are played with, reworked, and refurbished on “Couple Skate,” and Rob doesn’t leave much room to breathe here, accentuating just about every beat with his words.
You’ll easily lose yourself settling in around Rob’s words and like some astronautically, drug-induced cyborg, “Ithaca” drops with an Apollo Space Program aged fervor. Wrapped around a heavy percussive beat, the electronic feel takes semblances of industrial sounds on top of it. This is possibly the moment words are eaten because of earlier assumptions. Rob’s rarely breaks his own momentum, relentlessly spitting metaphors throughout.
Homage is given on the album, even if Rob handles it at 180 degrees. He takes “Oprah,” and utilizes the chorus of her own charity with the chorus of “You get a car…” while “JJ Sad” is the most obvious, in name, beat, and chorus. He cleverly fits his own name in where it “It’s supersonic” would have been claimed. Cleverly done. Now is there a new formula Rob Sonic is working with on Defriender? Not really, he’s still mining the landscape of sound and lyricism that others don’t but the only problem here is that the rest world needs to catch up if not, they’ll simply miss out on the genius methods he’s piecing together.