When men are invisible it’s pretty easy to see where they’re coming from and where these fellas just stepped out of is dark. The appropriately named debut of Invisible Men is an atmospheric chamber of digital wash and booming bass drums, rooted firmly in the left side of the centre. It’s appropriate then that this is an album that it’d seem more appropriate to listen to backwards. Not to discern any Judas Priest style messaging, but because they’ve stashed all the real gems towards the bottom of the play list.
The album kicks off pleasingly enough with stabs of the rough binary stuff and pounding drums while MarQ Spekt and Karniege talk themselves up a storm. “Futurama” continues in similar vein with some very catchy double time keyboards, before they lower the standard a degree or two with “Zookeeper” featuring Vordul Mega. Still it does have talk of “acid from metal Super-Soakers”, which will always be a winner. It’s at this point that things go a bit awry as the next three tracks just fail to deliver on the half-kept promises of unhinged malevolence that have been made so far. “HipHopPSA” is unconvincing and irritating, “52 Lashings” adds little to what has gone before and nor does “Jimmy Swagger”. So after six tracks of off kilter braggadocios emceeing over a selection of beats, some of which are just a bit awkward to listen to, it’s with a groan that you observe that there’s a further seven to go. It’s been ok so far but you’re probably wondering if there’s anything a bit more memorable in store.
Then the “T-Rex” hits and it’s just as much a defining moment as it was for Speilberg only this time you didn’t know it was coming. This is a straight-up bangga and it doesn’t do any harm to have C Rayz Walz on there, a certified duke of the leftfield of Hip-Hop. Illastrate steps the production up with piercing strings and broody keys but enough pace to allow a bit of dancing. While all three emcees bring their A-game to match. Then it’s back to the shadows with the graphic depiction of injuries these two intend to be inflicting on their enemies on “Darkroom”. “Thin Air” brings uplifting tales of adventures with the ladies. “Mighty Broady” on the other hand isn’t as strong but keeps the fire stoked just enough. The laid-back “Stories of Ghost” provides another later half highlight as they rap a small dose of reality before further references to King Kong and Mars Attack creep in. After that things get sexually explicit with “Neon Mud” before a final dose of bragging and boasting over a Khalid Slaam’s tasteful walking bassline.
Walking through this album is sort of a trip down a graff covered dark alley. At times it’s unpleasant and occasionally a bit awkward but by the time there’s light at the end of the tunnel you can actually start to appreciate what’s being crafted around you.