Ethereal – ▲ B S T R ▲ C T I C ▲

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Modern weirdness with strong overtones of past psychadelic rap notables, Edan’s Beauty And The Beat and Quasimoto’s The Further Adventures… and maybe even Madvillain all come to mind while listening. The general template used here is very similar to the cited predecessors – classic rap styles, wrapped in warped production wizardry. The major difference is the reliance on electronic music as opposed to soul/funk/psych rock samples. Drawing on DnB/IDM sounds like a very iffy proposition, I myself am not fan of these in the slightest, but Ethereal’s abilty to subvert them for rap purposes is truly impressive. The lyrical abilities on display are also noteworthy. Often with albums of this ilk the lyrical content is secondary, almost an afterthought to the production and atmosphere. But here Ethereal and his collaborators deftly channel the playfully serious vibes of early Native Tounges and/or Project Blowed, so what they’re saying and how they’re saying it is actually worth paying attention to. They’re not exactly dropping gems of ageless wisdom, but you’re not automatically wishing for an all-instrumental version either and that in itself is already a major success.

The album is not perfect, it’s a bit too long and sometimes, especially toward the end, it does lean a bit too far into the electronic side of things (for my liking at least). But even with its faults it’s still a great ‘official debut’, highly recommended.

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