Subtle

For Hero: For Fool (Lex/Astralwerks)

If there's justice in the world, Subtle frontman Doseone will someday win a MacArthur Genius Grant. John Zorn won one this year; so did some guy who studies combinatorics, whatever those are. They seem to award the things to folks who work tirelessly and relentlessly in the shadows, usually in strange, arcane fields. Doseone's field is hip hop. He and his mates (including Dax Pierson, who was paralyzed in a tour van crash last year, and who makes a triumphant return on this record) are veterans of the East Bay's avant-garde hip-hop collective, Anticon. At heart, this new record is a hip-hop record, its focus on recombinatrix, whatever that is. Listing the sounds and instruments would be like recounting how many words are in the dictionary, transcribing Doseone's lyrics like notating a Coltrane solo. The goal here is obliterating and reconstructing genres (indie rock, arena rock, club bangers, industrial, anti-rap [I just made that up]), and it's a thing to behold. Like a lot of freaky stuff, this music is not always a joy to listen to, but it's a necessary exploration, and someone needs to do it. So yeah, MacArthur people — let's keeps these guys afloat. Garrett Kamps

 
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