fri 06/12/2019

CD: WHY? - AOKOHIO | reviews, news & interviews

CD: WHY? - AOKOHIO

CD: WHY? - AOKOHIO

A powerfully affecting missive from the eternally introspective Planet Anticon

'There's a delight in sound, dynamics and the feel of words that comes before all conceptualism'

Founded in 1998, the Los Angeles based Anticon collective has become one of the most curiously individual of 21st century groupings. Taking the wordiest and nerdiest tendencies of hip hop – notably the slam poetry-informed tongue-twisting of fellow Californians like Freestyle Fellowship and Blackalicious – and the wordiest and nerdiest tendencies of electronically enhanced psychedelic indie as their starting points, they built a world of introspection and frazzled wordplay that they still inhabit to this day via several dozen collaborative and individual projects.

Why? was originally the stage name of Anticon co-founder Yoni Wolf, but since 2004 WHY? has been his band. This is their sixth album as such, and it is Anticon to the core. The first track is called “Apogee”, within the first 60 seconds (of 90) has mentioned a 19th century president, used the word “chocolatier” and run the gamut of half a dozen intensely conflicting emotions while delivering infernally addictive hooks. Its 19 tracks are written as six "movements", with accompanying experimental films, dammit. If you're averse to the smartarse or collegiate, you may have alarm bells ringing by this point, but seriously, it's not like that.

The thing about Anticon has always been that there's a delight in sound, dynamics and the feel of words that comes before all conceptualism, and that's as much the case here as ever. This album was apparently five years in the making and it feels it – but in a good way: for all that the lyrics and sonics are dense, it's the opposite of overwrought. Rather it sounds like concrete subjects such as Wolf's intensely religious childhood or his Crohn's Disease, as well as abstracted, learned ideas, have been folded over and over into the dough of these songs, testing and tasting until they become perfectly blended with more immediate concerns and the sounds of Syd Barrett and Beck, De La Soul and Devo, into complex but coherent flavours. As with almost everything from the Anticon stable, you have to make the commitment to step into this world to appreciate it, but when you do it feels like a privilege to have been invited.

@joemuggs

Watch the second movement of AOKOHIO, "I’ve been carving my elbows, I might just take flight":

If you're averse to the smartarse or collegiate, you may have alarm bells ringing by this point, but seriously, it's not like that

rating

Editor Rating: 
4
Average: 4 (1 vote)

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