Asphalt For Eden
One of my discontents with hip-hop, especially mainstream, radio crafted fare, is that aside from the low end, it simply does not fill the speaker. It begs the question, are MC’s afraid of giving up some of the mix to suggestion?
Newark hip-hop trio Dalek has never been about radio, except to riff on where the big obsolete box has stepped on their free style. With their 1998 debut five track, Negro Necro Nekros the band set themselves apart by using extended instrumental codas to fade out songs, laying industrial undertones and even bringing out a sitar… all while remaining fiercely credible. The comps were strange, shoegaze, Kraftwerk… It was like nothing else and, aside from a steady stream of LP’s throughout the early 2000’s, like nothing that came after.
Now Dalek has returned with Asphalt For Eden on Profound Lore Records, a label better known for heavy and black metal releases. Like their previous work, it’s brooding and melancholy, deftly cutting between moods in a flash of MC Dalek’s apocalyptic rhymes. He is as wise as he is sharp, a quality that may have been missing in his earlier word play.
Asphalt For Eden opens up with “Shattered” a track that jumps over a thematic build or sample introduction, beginning straight off on a heavy beat that bleeds out onto “Guaranteed Struggle” where MC Dalek drones on about how victory is the illusion, the struggle is the guarantee. No one drops rough edged, take it or leave it language like MC Dalek and the album opens on his star. As it turns over to side two on the noisy “Critical”, Mike Manteca and DJ rEk take over with tracks like “6dB” a slow, rolling heart mugging instrumental that feels like the street’s heart has ripped open, its blood pouring out all over the asphalt.
As Asphalt For Eden lumbers to its close, it becomes less political, less about the subject and more about tone. This is what makes Dalek great and why the six frustrating years since their last release have built anticipation. Although “Control” drops MC Dalek’s views on the black lives matter movement, the stick has smoked down leaving “It Just Is” to burn out, the closing resolution. (Erick Mertz)