Its 2015 and with that, among other unimportant things comes the most important thing that any music fan in the know could have hoped for, the release of yet another album from the most productive break-up-band, Death Grips. Last year the band drew criticism and a simultaneous sigh from the internet music community and fans alike when they suddenly canceled all future shows, including a their anticipated Fun Fun Fun Fest performance when they announced via a handwritten note on a napkin that “We are now at our best and so Death Grips is over“. Their break-up note was curious because it was both unexpected and at once casual – which has also been the case with the bands continuous activity despite their status as a band. They put out the first half of their two part album ‘The Powers That B’, dropped a video for ‘Intimate Sensation’, recently put out this unexpected instrumental tape, ‘Fashion Week’, and just a few days ago uploaded a surprise lo-fi video of the band putting on a performance.
With all the hype, the mystery, and the hate that surrounds these musicians its easy to say that they’re gimmicky. Aside from making some truly unique sounds, they are essentially this generation’s rock and roll / punk rock band at their most basic. The band drawls a certain fascination not simply from their strange sound but of course from their antics – I get it but as of now I don’t know of any other band that has been able to stay as relevant as Death Grips, especially after having broken up.
Fashion Week was released as a kind of nod to the fact that they will be releasing part 2 of their anticipate post-houmous double album ‘The Powers That B’ entitled ‘Jenny Death’ which will be dropping, as the titled of this tape suggests, sometime around Fashion Week. So what we get with fashion week is 14 new instrumental tracks featuring Death Grips futuristic and loud take on various style of electronic music, most notably what sounds like dub and dancy music you probably would be best off moshing too as oppose to dancing or maybe punk music that you could dance to.
The first track starts the album off the way you would expect a Death Grips album to start off, unpredictable, loud, yet familiarly catchy. You hear these off-kilter rhythms throughout that kind of arpeggiate up and down simultaneously as the music takes new shape with added layers of effects. The effects sound sculpted and what I mean by that is these, like most of Death Grips production choices sound signature; they don’t sound like anything that you’d hear on any other record, rather the sounds have been meticulously broken down and sculpted from the source material to create the distinct otherworldly sound that Death Grips have been recognized for.
While drummer, Zach Hill and producer Andy Morin did their part to create the jarring instrumentals that became a staple of defining the sound they pioneered its even easier to attribute their influence to that of MC Ride’s contribution to the group. From the band’s conception with the release of the debut ‘Exmilitary’ the only confirmed member at the time was Zach Hill, the drummer from noise-rock legends, Hella. And while the band gained attention for the tightly executed albeit noisy drumming of Hill it was MC Rides over-the-top vocal performances that drew the attention. However, with this new tape, being that it is an instrumental tape there comes the drawback of Ride’s exclusion – whether he performs at all on this record is unclear- but the absence of his vocal performances removes some of the intense potential these instrumental tracks could have yet it also brings their pop-influences to a new level of attention.
Its kind of funny that a group as confrontational, as aggressive as Death Grips is sonically and lyrically they have throughout their career given not-so-subtle nods to pop music, namely the synth-heavy club-driven beats that dominated tracks on their debut studio full length ‘The Money Store’, which had little bits of pop sprinkled throughout the whole album but became most prominent on the anthemic final track, ‘Hacker’ in which you can hear what sounds like a recording from the outside of a nightclub as MC Ride says something about there being “no ins and outs’ before the track actually starts in. It would appear to be a clever allusion to the band’s pop-influenced instrumental sound. This allusion becomes even more clear when Ride raps how ‘Gaga can’t handle this shit’ and would become even more clear later on when the group released a remix of Bjork’s track, ‘Thunderbolt’. In recent years even the most nauseating pop musicians like Lady Gaga, Banks, Lorde, Miley Cyrus, and perhaps the most obvious being Kanye West with his ‘Yeezus’ album have embraced a more left field approach to their music, either in their sound or their antics both on stage and off stage. Its difficult to tell who inspired who at this point but whatever is happening it sounds noisy but its the most accessible noise has ever been.
Watch a surprise video of the band performing below:
Overall Rating: 7.0
Favorite tracks: ‘Runway J’, ‘Runway E (2)
Recommended: Nah, Hair Police, Arca, Clipping
Released: 04 January 2015