dälek – Gutter Tactics
Coming off of the blistering beats and symphonic doom of Abandoned Language, New Jersey duo Dälek (pronounced dialect) continue swaggering down the same path that made their last album a success, and in a sense, Gutter Tactics could be considered Abandoned Language, Pt. 2. When you’ve found your sound, why make a departure? Previous tour dates with Ipecac labelmates — Isis in particular — prove to be hugely influential once again, as metallic fuzz and white-noise layers propel the agitated rhymes of dälek (the MC) in a thick swampy steam. Aptly titled, the album has a dark, disorienting, and toxic vibe. Instrumentally, Gutter Tactics shares much in common with the droning shoegaze of My Bloody Valentine and the distorted orchestration of Mono, due to live overdubs provided by various musicians ushered from dälek’s Deadverse record label into his newly built studio. The funky jazz of Motiv is washed into a haze behind Destructo Swarmbots’ myriad of guitar effects, resulting in a blurry ultra-compressed dreamscape wedged between the brick-breaking snaps of Oktopus’ beats. It’s actually quite difficult to specify what instrumentation makes up the wall of sound — synths, strings, horns, guitar effects, or something else entirely. It all simply sounds like a sludgy cyclic hum that shifts between two moods: threatening and beautiful. On one side of the coin, there’s the ominous “No Question,” with factory crunch drum sequencing accented by intense Jeru the Damaja-type rhymes. On the other, there’s the flashback to the sweeter days of hip-hop in the sedate and droning “We Lost Sight,” a song that marks the MC and producer at the top of their game as chamber organs swell hypnotically underneath a gritty boom-bap, while dälek reminisces in a echoing vocal, “We lost sight on how to use these mikes/What scripts we write/How to choose our fights.” Disenchantment with the state of rap, and society as a whole, is a major underlying theme, but the statements never feel too preachy or in your face. Instead, the vocal freestyles hover just slightly above the music, delivered in an amorphous mumble that matches the sonic abyss of the background perfectly. Headphones are highly recommended for this one.