17 December, 2010@10:01 pm
Since the record industry effectively imploded, sales might be down, but music is still being made. More importantly, it seems like things are more interesting and bizarre than ever before. Gangrene is a group project between Oh No and The Alchemist, the former a Stones Throw stalwart, the latter being one of the most seasoned producers in the field. Combining the best of both producers-on-the-mic, Oh No finds unique samples and twists them into something usable, while Alchemist emulates the classic east coast boom bap sound of DJ Premier, the RZA, and other east coast greats. On Gutter Water, they managed to pull each others best strengths together for something cohesive. It resides in an East Coast state of mind, but Oh No pulls in the spacey bounce of the west coast to transform and uplift Al’s working-class gangsta sounds.
The guest list consists of classic emcees, both old and new. Raekwon kills the Blaxploitation-esque title track, while Planet Asia lends his voice to the epic, eastern strings of “Boss Shit”. Fashawn and Evidence contribute some solid guest verses on “Wassup Wassup”, which makes the normally upbeat Fashawn sound down right grimey. While this is an album where the beats surpass the vocals, it’s not a problem when the sounds are all this good.
“Chain Swinging” continues the eastern sound, with what sounds like bongos, a guzheng and some solid scratching, while “All Bad” resonates with sneering, bared teeth mentality with it’s stabbing pianos and fantastic scratching, a lost art in itself. On “Standing On The Shadows”, Oh No utilizes the same brand of eastern rock and psych samples as heard on his Dr. No’s Oxperiment LP, showing you don’t need a Linkin Park type rock outfit to get some solid guitar fuzz. The album closes with one of its most solid tracks, “Not Leaving” (Feat. Big Twin), which mixes up some different piano loops and quick playing chopped up under the occasional saxophone part and twisted horn parts.
From the West Coast to the East and back again, the sounds on this album are twisted, traveled, unique, and a great distillation of what each coast is best at. The music industry may continue to deteriorate, but a little Gangrene forming ain’t such a bad thing.
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