Garbageface x Wolfagram
(Rap Will Eat Itself Records)
Over the last few years, Karol “Garbageface” Orzechowski has used a laptop, a few instruments and a prodigious amount of talent to expand the vocabulary of electronic music, and really gone out of his way to both force change and re-arrange some musical conventions and paradigms. Watching his body of work unfold, (particularly N0 FUTUR(E) and Apostasy) has been nothing short of hypnotic, in fact; Garbageface has taken sounds and ideas which have been historically known for being seen as either dark and confrontational or comparatively bright and energetic, and wound them together in a sort of helix fashion which expresses both extremes but does not align itself completely with either. It has been a consistently fascinating idea to hear and, with the Dymaxion LP – his newest release – the DJ/emcee has brought Toronto-based producer Andrew “Wolfagram” Nolan along to help change the rules of the game again.
Listeners will find themselves instantly hooked and hanging on every beat and lyrical phrasing as “7 Second Delay” and “Expo ’86” open Dymaxion with a spectacular one – two punch. A descending bass line and dissonant synth sound colors this beginning, but Garbageface leaves little doubt that darkness is in the air as lines like “Cereal box tops collected in a pile and sent off to reveal pop rocks devoured in a pile and thrown up to puncture through the full color spectrum” add a foreboding air matched perfectly by the rhythm and meter with which they’re delivered – but it gets flat out disturbing when the meter of the song begins to shift unexpectedly. As it plays, the song speeds up in real-time and is actually capable of inspiring a sense of panic in listeners, which endures easily into “Over The Edge,” which pulls most of the extra sounds out of the cut’s arrangement to leave just a bone-dry beat, initially. As it plays, listeners won’t be able to stop their nerves from feeling wracked.
The disconcerting sense of paranoia inspired easily in the running of Dymaxion‘s A-side does not relent as “Zener Cards” inserts some dub-feeling tones into the side’s movement and some sawed-at string samples open “Trip Wire,” but the searing, seething fury which powers “Atomic Clock” is the real pay-off. There, the almost sardonic saunter of the beat and the great grumbling of the low end hook listeners as lines about “zero hours” and needing “something to believe in” reel them in and leave them aching for more. For just less than four minutes, Garbageface and Wolfagram deliver a phenomenal tour de force and, when the cut clears and the needle lifts from the side, there’s no doubt that those who experience it will be reaching to flip the record over and keep the vibe moving forward.
…And when the B-side opens with “Doppler Effect” – which which makes the most of a sense of static which could best be characterized as flat but compelling, listeners will realize that no step has been lost in the switching of sides; the beats hit hard and lines like “Interference in the frequencies/ Keeping ’em quiet without a measure of delinquency” land like bombs – explosive. It’s perhaps because the opening cut of the side hits so hard that its successor, “Seasick,” shakes so hard with a slower and more concussive rhythm, but “Backbone” recovers the ground lost there with an enormous drone capable of freezing listeners with panic which holds all the way through “Metamorph” too. Moreso than on the A-side of the album (which felt more like conventional hip hop, in design), the B-side makes the most of its own unique and deeply-seated sense of terror which is definitely capable of keeping listeners glued to their seats, and while “Projectile” does fumble the vibe a little with the grating, high-pitched string samples in its own composition, “Buffering” manages to revert the album’s tone back to centre at side’s close – and even finds a sense of satisfaction that listeners can walk away with, as the low end soothes nerves and the stylus lifts.
Taking the album as a whole into account, there are several phrases that many critics would be tempted to employ in praise of Dymaxion, but many of them feel trite, somehow. Is the album a triumph for Wolfagram? Yup – but his talent has never been placed into question. Is Dymaxion a good Garbageface album? Absolutely and without question. Could this album have been made by either artist on his own? There’s no doubt that Dymaxionis the product of these artists’ combined skill sets, but it’s entirely possible that either of them could have made it on their own – but it’s unlikely that they would have because because this album sounds the way it does as a result of both Garbageface and Wolfagram challenging each other and playing off of each other – and is fantastic for those reasons. Fans of either Wolfagram or Garbageface would be doing themselves a spectacular disservice if they missed out on experiencing this album. [Bill Adams]
Dymaxion is out now. Buy it here on bandcamp.