Friday, 6 March 2009

REVIEW: Dälek - Gutter Tactics

My original review for this dark, brooding slice of left field hip-hop was cruelly consigned to the digital dustbin in the wee hours of Saturday morning. Suffice it to say that my faith in the auto-save option is now to be replaced with obsessive-compulsive pasting into Notepad and back again once I've finished.

Part of my spiel, however, was about cutting down the length of reviews (and subsequently getting more completed), so perhaps this was a (harsh, frustrating) way of modifying my scribblings.

So basically Gutter Tactics is better than 2006's Abandoned Language, although in the same vein with deep, atmospheric beats and subdued vocals. The main reason for me really clicking with them this time, as opposed to the last album which I only enjoyed in fits and starts, is the cohesion. The way the whole work fits together and offers a change in pace from time to time. Again, most tunes (like the quality 'Who Medgar Evers Was'....answer......and 'Armed With Krylon') offer a downbeat, cynical take on society and how it operates, yet these are interspersed with more accessible songs ('No Question') and even contemplative numbers that verge on the hopeful ('We Lost Sight'). Abandoned Language lacked these contrasts and so required a pretty set state of mind to want to listen to it all the way through. This breaks out and offers a more general discontent, throwing some curves in there to keep the listener engaged.

Dälek both benefit and suffer from being an act that blur the boundaries between diverse genres. Their sound is rooted in hip-hop but is a million miles from the standard fare of that genre, also covering the realms of shoegaze, trip-hop, and various posts. It most often recalls, for me, Massive Attack, though even they only ventured into those darker, rockier territories carefully and specifically for individual songs. Whilst great for the open-minded listener, this can also put off strict fans of any of the specific genres they inhabit.

Missing out on these boys would be a shame, though, as they've crafted what is likely to be one of the more atmospheric and intricate releases of the year. If you have time to listen in and can deal with the belief that, despite the GObama hope, things aren't all sweetness and light, Gutter Tactics will reward and then some. A pertinent reminder that there's still a lot of work to be done.

Dälek Official

Buy Buy

MP3: Dälek - Who Medgar Evers Was

Now playing: Dälek - Lynch
via FoxyTunes

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