Mortar is an Austrailian MC/Producer who is part of Perth's Clandestien crew. "Sacred Geometry" is his second solo outing, following last year's "Mortarshell Symphony." As the title suggests, this is an intricate work that references the Supreme Mathematics, numerology, conspiracy theories, and fantasy epics.
As a producer, Mortar favors dramatic, cinematic beats that fit in well with his dramatic, cinematic lyrics. "The Foundations" is backed by strings and horn flourishes; "Exodus" has a piano riff and metronome tick; "God Complex" has an alternative-rock feel to it, complete with an Alanis Morissette sound-alike singing the hook; "The Answers 2" has a bubbly 80's funk beat that reminded me of the Pointer Sisters' "Neutron Dance." The overall effect is the RZA meets El-P meets the "Excalibur" soundtrack. Sometimes it works, but more often than not the beats, like the lyrics, feel a little too serious for their own good.
As MC/producers go, Mortar is pretty decent on the mic, and seems much more natural as an MC than a lot of other cats who take a break from the boards to try their hand at rhyming. He has an incredibly thick Aussie accent, which takes a little getting used to, but it is an interesting change of pace. Lyrically, he comes off like a cross between a devout 5 Percenter, a D & D geek, and a paranoid schizophrenic. He rattles off references to metaphysics, literature, history, films, and conspiracies in a relentless rant. Mortar hits his melodramatic peak on "The Taking of Rome." Backed by a chorus of singing women straight out of a sword-and-sandals epic, he delivers lines like "Hail Caesar" with a straight face. The result is the hip hop equivalent of epic metal bands like Iron Maiden and Manowar, only without the screaming guitars and operatic vocals:
"This legionnaire's prayers call for war like Mars
Dragonheart flawless like the Praetorian guard
Armored martyr saint slayer
Barter with Satan
Scripter of victory
The greatest challenger
The man who shot liberty
Damaged with a pen
Keep on retreating until you're beaten in the end"
One complaint artists frequently have about reviews is that the reviewer didn't even bother to listen to their album closely. I want to assure Mortar that I have listened to "Sacred Geometry" over and over and over again. After about twenty spins on my cd player, it STILL doesn't make any sense to me. I'm not sure whether Mortar is a genius or a paranoid schizophrenic; most likely he falls in between somewhere. What I do know is that "Sacred Geometry" is dark hip hop in the same vein as Jedi Mind Tricks and Cannibal Ox, but not as coherent or enjoyable.
Music Vibes: 6.5 of 10 Lyric Vibes: 6.5 of 10 TOTAL Vibes: 6.5 of 10
Originally posted: November 13, 2007