On ‘Spirit World Field Guide’, Aesop Rock talks about how to survive and thrive in the modern world. It’s for people who feel both dead and alive and who are stuck in a parallel universe.
The beats are urgent. ‘Button Masher’ has a nostalgia arcadey feel, but the production is clean and polished. The bass reminds me of classic hip hop tracks, but it stands up because it’s so refreshing. In ‘Dog at the Door’, he says: “The atmosphere is begging for a trap.” He could be saying that a huge change is going to come, reflecting these weird times. This uncertain feeling rears its head in ‘Gauze’ because there’s a gritty bass and aggressive drums.
Lead single ‘Pizza Alley’ is a banger. The refrain “never let me die on a regular hill” is so catchy. The beat then switches up to something darker, which shows how diverse the album is. The song is about how surprised the narrator is that he’s got this far: “How did I get this far without a bindle full of crystal skulls?” It ties well into the album’s end of the world theme. Some of the beats sound like they’re from another planet. You can hear his frustration on ‘Kodokushi’ when he says: “I shouldn’t be here.” The sample that runs through the chorus which says “I told ya” could add to this regret.
When the beat kicks in on ‘Fixed and Diluted’ it combines an atmospheric synth with jazzy bass, DJ scratches, and chaotic drums. These work well because I can see the listener getting excited when they hear it. My favourite song is ‘Marble Cake.’ It sums up the dissatisfied feeling of the album, but also about how capitalism affects society. I can eel the energy and anger in his voice, rounding off an enthralling album.
Words by Ermis Madikopoulos