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Dälek , "Absence"

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Absence is the heaviest hitting release to date from hip hop's loudest collective. For the first time, the words come close to matching the sounds in weight. According to the eponymous frontman, the record is a statement on hometown Newark, NJ, and suffice to say it won't be promoted by the Chamber of Commerce. Ipecac
Absence is perfect background music for urban blight: the dirty drum breaks and jazz loops hung on walls of blinding white noise and screeching industrial droning are as hard and unpalatable as the Garden State's water supply, and simply seethe with anger and indignation. Rising barely discernible above the din comes Dälek's lyrics, denouncing the landscape around him, without stopping at the Turnpike for social and political damnation. With a new, savage directness reminiscent of Boogie Down Productions and Public Enemy, he tackles all comers in a cultural "war of survival." Poetically, Dälek is still in a class of his own, dealing the complex and varied material with aplomb and brutal honesty. Justified white anger scalds on "Permanent Underclass": "What, now we equals cause we have a King's holiday?/ Coming storms here to stay/ They turned the noon sky heron gray/ Africans into slaves/ Say we free/ but if we speak like Malcolm X they assassinate"; and "Culture for Dollars" paused to muse but still demands tough answers: "Who trades his culture for dollars?/ The fool or the scholar? Griot? Poet? Or White collared?" The newfound lyrical directness is a welcome change, and perfectly suited to such in-your-face music. Dälek still requires considerable fortitude from their listeners. "Distorted Prose" alternates lyrics with noise in a chaotic call and answer that after six minutes leaves the aurally weak begging for mercy. War of survival, indeed. However, out of all the madness seep bizarre harmonies—the symphonic hook in "Ever Somber" is hypnotic and absurdly catchy, a revelation that surprises and rewards an unsuspecting ear. Absence is Dälek at their best: consistently harsh, grim and bleak but disquietingly irresistible.

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Last Updated on Thursday, 25 August 2005 23:05  


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