Anyone who is already familiar with Karol “Garbageface” Orzechowski’s output knows the emcee has a pretty dark and potentially violent disposition (2016’s NØ FUTUR(E) 7” illustrated that really well), but he’s really stepped up his game on Apostasy with the help of NYC producer Yung Gutted. This time the movement is exponentially slower; in print, readers may assume the music is more methodical, but in fact it moves slower as a dramatic effect. Here, there’s anger and violence in every turn and every other syllable, and Garbageface forces listeners to examine every drop of blood as it falls.
The A-side of the album (which is the side that features production work by Brooklyn’s own Yung Gutted) takes the darkness and mania that Garbageface has taunted listeners with before and slows it down to make sure they are completely unable to avoid it (as they may have been able to do on NØ FUTUR(E) – were they absolutely intent on trying) when it hits them. As soon as “Full Moon (Theme From Apostasy)” begins the proceedings, listeners will be made to feel as though the violence already started without them and they’re just standing in a blood-painted room.
Here, the beats move languidly along and the samples seem simultaneously very vivid and dark; there’s no second of the track which isn’t bone-chilling as the ideas of being resigned from time and space, portraits of halloween-worthy props and pictures of Pavlov’s dog drooling over fresh meat are put forward over a keyboard sample which sounds like it might have come straight out of a Vincent Price movie marathon. Listeners will feel the little hairs on the backs of their necks stand at attention for that, and rightfully so – but it gets even eerier when there proves not to be a break and the beat continues at that pacing as the images and vocal production get increasingly dark for the latter two minutes of the song. Eventually, the track gets downright stifling and horrific.
The dark and dangerous tones first set by “Full Moon” continue most poignantly through tracks like “Circle Of His Bones,” “Moral Panic” and “Locked In From The Outside.” In each of those cases, Orzechowski lets the delivery of his lines be defined by both the mood set by his lyrics as well as that of the production put together by Gutted – so what listeners can get can be anything from really fucking dark and confrontational to rhythmic and veering from smooth to spat on a dime. It might not always be the easiest thing to hear, depending on the track, but each one proves to fit together and at no point does the overall theme get lost along the way. It is dramatic and compelling, if not the sort of consistent storyline that one keeps expecting might come forth as the music develops here.
When the side finally does finish out with the repetitive mantra which closes “Locked In From The Outside,” it’s hard for anyone listening to really know if they should be feeling satisfaction or simply a punctuation mark in the anger and frustration which has colored the music they’ve just heard. It’s for that reason that listeners will have no problem flipping the record over to see what the B-side holds – they’ll want to try and find out where this music is headed.
They may be looking for a sense of completion, but what listeners find on the B-side of Apostasy is simply proof that this rabbit hole feels bottomless. On the B-side, listeners find just one enormous, eighteen-minute exercise entitled “Lycanthropy” which does not relent from the second it starts until the second it finishes. Here, Thee Matt joins Garbageface as the emcee reads, rhymes, rants, barks and fumes out a piece which is as much hip hop as it is just meterless spoken word. There’s no question that it requires listeners to be involved with it (passive listening just won’t work), but Garbageface rewards those willing to follow him by producing a work which is able to hold them hypnotized in spite of the energy required to follow it.
As was the case on the A-side, there is no relief from the darkness of “Lycanthropy” but, even so, every part of the sound here is incredibly energizing. Between the sci-fi synths and Orzechowski’s brash declarations that he’s not afraid to die but doesn’t plan on going quietly if he has to go, listeners will begin to feel a defiant sneer manifest on their faces which actually illustrates how much more accessible the B-side is than the A. Here, listeners will have far less difficulty hanging on each and every word of Garbageface’s performance, and won’t even think twice about whether they want to expend the amount of time required to hear the whole track again – it will just go without saying.
After having run through the complete exercise of Apostasy from front to back, there’s no question that what Garbageface and Yung Gutted have created here is a completely unique piece of work which requires effort from a listener to make it through – but there’s also no question that, after the first time, listeners will want to do it repeatedly. Unlike so many other records of this type, the artists have really managed to compose a work which is captivating in its naked emotional articulation and, once they begin with it, listeners won’t be able to stop themselves from seeing it through to its conclusion.
Something like this is incredibly rare not just in electronic music but in music in general; it leaves a great and indelible impression guaranteed to have those who find it waiting excitedly for more music from both Garbageface and Yung Gutted individually, but the possibility of the pair teaming up again might just leave them in the throes of ecstasy.