What do you get when you combine ambient noise in the vein of Incapacitants, Faust, and Merzbow and mix it with Nas-style hip-hop? You, my friend, would have Union City, NJ experimental trio Dälek, who take influences such as Velvet Underground, My Bloody Valentine, Eric B and Rakim, and others to forge their oddball brand of experimental music. Currently consisting of MC dälek (Will Brooks), DJ rEK, and Mike Manteca, the group has been putting out tunes since 1998. In their time, they’ve shared stages with all different kinds of bands, from the likes of Isis, Dillinger Escape Plan, and The Melvins to De La Soul, Prince Paul, and RJD2, to name a very small few.
After reforming in 2015, the group have been dead-set on bringing more bars, beats, and brain-shattering noise to their masses of fans. Asphalt For Eden, the group’s first official release since 2009’s Gutter Tactics, features some of the strongest music they’ve released.
Though they once incorporated more elements of more abrasive noise, Dälek has taken the music in a more atmospheric direction. All the tracks feature lush, fully realized soundscapes that gives the music a astral, far-off feel.
In this way, the sound feels like it has evolved, feeding more into the emotions of the listener and reaching further into depths of their creative well which were previously untouched. “Shattered” and “Masked Laughter (Nothing’s Left)” have a watery, subterranean feel, in the sense that they honestly sound like they could have been recorded in an underwater cavern. Meanwhile,“Critical” feels like a phased-out tumble through dirty back alleys in a noisy urban environment, with a sticky-sounding slap of a snare and the heavy chant-like vocals mixed into the cacophony of disk scratches and layered reverb.
Check out the track-list below!
Asphalt For Eden Track List:
- Guaranteed Struggle
- Masked Laughter (Nothing’s Left)
- It Just Is
The secret to their sound is the powerhouse creative combination of DJ rEK and Mike Manteca, who bring a new fold into the tried-n-true formula that MC dälek helped create with fellow founding member Oktopus, who parted ways with the group in 2011. The album has a sound akin to their roots, with the underlying beats reminiscent of the group’s 1998 debut album Negro Necro Nekros. It takes the trippy beats and washes them in cascading sound. Don’t resist the urge to call it “gaze-hop”; given their influences and its resulting effect on their sound, the term would fit like a glove.
To sum it up, you need to listen to this album. It is a uniquely enjoyable experience from beginning to end, one that old-school hip-hop fans and new-age die-hards alike can appreciate. It caters to followers of Captain Murphy just as easily as it does to fans of Rakim. This album is helping lay the groundwork for some amazing experimentation in the hip-hop scene, and we can’t wait to see what Dälek come up with next.
Rating: 8/ 10
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