The term “post-noise rap pioneer” had no meaning for me before discovering Moodie Black. It seemed at first like one of those pretentious invented descriptions people slap on things in an attempt to sound cool and hip. You know the phrases: retro-futuristic, ultra modern, neo-classical, hybrid fusion. They’re often either redundant or contradictory and devoid of any significance once stripped of their hyperbolic context. Whenever something is described as “post”-anything I always wonder what the “pre”-something was before it, and why the artist is so desperate to differentiate themselves from it.
This Arizona group may be able to justify their description by the fact they’re absolutely unlike almost anything else you can find in hip-hop today save perhaps Death Grips. Since this review has already put undue focus on invented descriptions I’d like to give you one of my own: “neo-punk acid rap.” Let’s put the focus squarely on the word ACID shall we? They sound like they’ve done a lot. This is the kind of rap music that Raoul Duke would listen to. This is what kids who grew up on the Beastie Boys, N.W.A and GangStarr turned into after too many nights playing with postage stamps not to be mailed and ink blotters that never wrote a letter. It’s rap music that was poured into a paint can, shaken vigorously, and thrown at the wall by the handful until both art and insanity were on display.
Something either went seriously wrong or seriously right for lead vocalist K. (C. Martinez) when he was left alone too long in the Arizona desert. “No one can die like we do” vows the frontman on the pulsing electronic background of “Mollyap,” sounding like a Commodore 64 SID generating white noise and being fed through a series of amplifiers with increasingly frayed cords. This isn’t just grimy hip-hop, it’s dank and musky. Thanks to the guitars of Sean Lindahl and drums of David Norbert the tracks occasionally take on the semblance of traditional songs, with “Linen Funerals” striking an eerie resemblance to a D-Sisive production, from the dark sound to the dark lyrics. Sometimes you just have to say “fuck figuring this out” and just ride with it though – like the surprisingly up tempo “White Buffalo,” which has me picturing mosh pits at their concerts. Try deciding whether “Christ” is mocking religion or declaring themselves prophets of a new age and you may just conclude the correct answer is BOTH.
It’s as hard for me to knock Moodie Black for their style as it is for me to recommend it to casual listeners. It may give you a headache. It may in fact make you nauseous. It’s intriguing though. Whatever being a “post-noise rap pioneer” is, it’s not the same old shit you’ve heard before, and it’s not like anything you’ll hear anywhere else. It feels like the antidote to a sickness I didn’t even know I had. This is the kind of album I would play after listening to too many hours of tired cliches about wearing imported clothes and driving expensive sports cars while hustling illegal drugs. Moodie Black said fuck that, we’ll just take the drugs, and record whatever happens afterward. It’s different and in this case different is good – but you can’t approach this like any rap you’ve ever heard before. Open your mind to something strange.