An Album of Thoughtful, Haunting Beauty.
Evil Alex is back with more of his unique blend of post-hip hop instrumentals and dusty, atmospheric soul.
This Chicago producer specialises in hypnotic, loop-based collages in which instruments and melodies sometimes interrupt the loops, and other times lay directly on top, creating a disorientating and exciting effect akin to Frank Zappa’s ‘Xenochrony’ technique.
Evil Alex’s last project, the ‘Hate’ EP, would have been the perfect soundtrack to an art installation filled with disturbing imagery or a late night film-noir thriller. Whilst the influences, subject matters and sounds of his new album ‘iGeneration’ are more diverse, he has lost none of his individuality or knack for biting social commentary. The album title, for example, could be a nod to the device which changed our experience of music forever, or a wry critique of our egocentric times.
‘Swagaphobia’ is ‘Play’ era Moby mixed with a shadowy, Dopplegangaz menace. The early Cypress Hill style outro is a particularly nice touch and the twisted vocal snippet that whispers ‘Thriller’ is both cleverly done and genuinely unnerving.
Much of the album’s early half is ‘uneasy listening’, perhaps best encapsulated in the dramatic ‘Destroyer’, which conjures up images of an exhausted military band playing from the middle of a firefight. Whilst an unrelentingly bleak approach could work on an EP, a full-length album of such intensity would have pummelled the listener. However, the second half’s mellower moments contrast and compliment iGeneration’s more intense tracks. ‘Snack Wrap’, with its lovely vocals and lilting guitar over a blanket of rain and warm fuzz, exudes a chilled-out romance. The dusty ‘In Like With You’ sounds like the best love song ‘Deadringer’ era RJD2 or RZA never made. Placing these tracks together beautifully balances the opening salvo.
‘New Negro Spiritual’ is a heavy-assed skank combining a reggae bounce, funk vocal snippets and Jay Dilla’s Ruff Draft monologue. ‘Vice & Debauchery’ is a sweaty rock-influenced banger which explodes unexpectedly into The Chemical Brothers style dance near the end. ‘Big, Shiny, Fancy, New’ sounds like two 80’s synthpop tracks unsure whether to play nice or fight. ‘When It Happens’, with its frantic syncopation and Eastern instruments, is reminiscent of The Beatles’ ‘Tommorow Never Knows’. Again, just when you think you have the track figured out, it morphs into something new.
Whilst ‘iGeneration’ still has a lo-fi, “straight from the muh’fucking cassette” feel, it is bigger and smoother sounding than his previous outings, showing a producer with rapidly increasing skill, scope and ambition. Evil Alex has taken his art to the next level on this intelligent, engaging and eerily beautiful album. Very well thought-out, executed and sequenced. Great work.