Music and the night are intrinsically linked. It is the cover of nightfall that allows clubbers to get hot and sweaty; the feeling of being a dirty stop out as the sun rises; and everything in between those two extremes. Those who love music HAVE to love the night. Being heavily involved with music automatically makes you nocturnal, as I can attest. Every few weeks, I will be working on music in some capacity, and happen to be interrupted by an owl outside my window - yes, a real night owl. He knows that we're the only two souls awake at 3am in my neighbourhood, and that is why he sings to me outside my room. At least, I like to think so. It might just be sleep deprivation.
It is also one of the most preferable portions of the day to be inspired - whether it is that moment of half-sleep when the best ideas tease you, only to be lost to slumber... Or the peace and quiet that clarifies your thoughts, the ones that are usually suppressed by people, machinery, noise... These are some of the themes that clearly fuel "When Electric Night Falls" because Bisc1 is that shifty looking guy on the opposite train platform. He almost looks like a cliché, before you realise that those of his ilk probably inspired the cliché in the first place. He finally releases his album after an inordinate amount of time between first EP and debut LP. Needless to say, it has been moulded and sculptured to reflect the moonlight, as well as the flashing neon signs that try so hard to drown it out.
Whether it works or not is a more personal matter - it truly matters on who you are, and on your mood... Musically, things are dark - it is tightly sequenced, a short twelve-track offering that flows together well, punctuated only by the crispness of the drums. Lyrically, the subject matter is relatively diverse - at times uplifting, paranoid and introspective, all at the same time. As an MC, Bisc1 reminds me of a sober Lil Wayne, in some capacity at least. Whether that is a compliment or not again depends on your taste. His delivery left me relatively unimpressed, as he fails to match the appropriate tone on certain songs. For example, while he does well on the opener "Night Fall," his voice doesn't command the energetic funk of "Fire N' Ice" - so the track runs away from him. He immediately smashes it on "Unconditional," then sounds like a lackluster version of Gnotes on "Turbulence." For an album that has been this long in the waiting, not to mention crafted to an almost obsessive degree, the looseness of his delivery destabilises the mood of the music. It might even just be that his vocal tone is relatively flat, but Bisc definitely sounds better when he is trying to match the mood of the instrumental. If you can, listen to "Ready to Die" once in the sunshine, and again at night - and see how much the darkness can affect your understanding of how mood is translated by light.
For an album that aims so squarely to explore the night, and combine it with the crackle of electricity (evident, for example, on "Another Day"), "When Electric Night Falls" is somewhat unconvincing. Sure, the music sets a mood. But it is oddly unsatisfying - you reach the end of the album wondering what the point was. Not only on my first time, but upon every subsequent listen. But then I happened to play it at my friend’s house. Having just parted ways with a girl, to say he was in a dark state of mind would be a viscous understatement. Needless to say, he loved the album.
Perhaps simply exploring the night isn't enough - it needs to be celebrated, criticised, explained even... If it is merely a backdrop for your own personal musings, then an opportunity is wasted: as a result, "When Electric Night Falls" is simply relegated to "background music." Although Bisc1 spits a couple of hot verses, he isn't really a charismatic (or skilled) enough MC to pull off an album like this. Whilst it was an admirable undertaking, it doesn't work - for me. For my poor friend, in such a dark frame of mind, it worked perfectly. So for this album, more than most I've ever reviewed, the final score is genuinely more subjective than as per usual. It just so happens that I love the night, but not this album - that is not to say that you won't.
Music Vibes: 5.5 of 10 Lyric Vibes: 5.5 of 10 TOTAL Vibes: 5.5 of 10
Originally posted: April 8, 2008