Album Review: Spirit World Field Guide // Aesop Rock
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
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Denny’s is the spot that people find themselves in when there’s nowhere else to go. When it’s early in the morning and nothing else is open. When you’re hung over, don’t feel like going home to face your parents, family, significant other, or an empty apartment…you end up at Denny’s. It’s not that you actually like the food or ambiance; you just have no other choices.
NorCal emcee, by way of Detroit, Calcei’s eighth album “Denny’s” is the perfect metaphor for life today: stuck in a rut; in purgatory; a holding pattern, but still trying to find humor and light in the darkness.
Calcei’s frequent collaborator, Detroit beat maker Olos, supplies part of the soundscape on “Denny’s”, while the rest of his beats are provided by first-time sonic partners.
Florida producer Beatnick Classic, as well as Monplacebo, also from Florida by way of Queens, NY, provide their brand of boom bap freshness. Michigan maestro Mike E. Eyebrowz also adds his production talents to the project, along with North Carolina super producer kingCameelioSalamander’s crispy beats.
Calcei once again teams up with the UK’s Pimpernal Jones, who lays down dope cuts and scratches throughout the album, in addition to mixing and mastering the project.
Hopefully we won’t be stuck at Denny’s forever, but we might as well try to enjoy it while we’re there.