Deadverse Massive Vol 1: Dälek Rarities 1999 — 2006
Hydra Head Records
Kid Sister is cute and everything, but there are some grumpy purists who can’t stomach this current trend in kitsch-hop. Well, Hydra Head Records’ Deadverse Massive Vol 1: Dälek Rarities 1999-2006 is just the thing to combat the sorrow and dread seizing the hearts of cocked-cap, avant-rap aficionados everywhere. Spanning, more or less, the entirety of the group’s career, Rarities moves chronologically through 13 tracks of instrumentals, remixes, and unreleased material. Since Dälek is a highly coveted underground hip-hop secret, I question the logic behind releasing a rarities disc of cuts that most underground heads should already have sniffed out in dusty record store bins or from snarky internet message board tip-offs.
Dälek’s music (the band consists of MC/producer Dälek, co-producer Oktopus, and DJ Still) sets the sonic backdrop for MC Dälek’s poetic and rhythmic rhymes about racial oppression, cultural atonement, and dystopian unrest (Kid Sister would fit right in!). Each of their releases is a cohesive statement (barring their uneven debut EP, Negro Necro Nekros), and represents a creative evolution: from their most rudimentary from the filthy tongue of gods and griots to the highly evolved melodicism of Abandoned Language.
Much has been made of Dälek’s absorption of non-hip-hop influences that include everything from My Bloody Valentine to John Coltrane to Faust and Linkin Park. Their tracks are tapestries into which they weave Wu Tang-esque bass lines, warped symphonic strings, off-key horns, and noisy bursts of sharp guitar that cleave you from the prevailing pop predictability and drop you in an aural battlefield somewhere between the meandering discord of Tricky’s Pre-Millennium Tension and the limber organics of Sonic Sum’s The Sanity Annex. That carries over here, but Rarities tunes down the nightmares and explores the ethereal (“Music for ASM”), Thievery Corporation style trip-hop (“Angst”), and shoegazy guitar loops (“Vague Recollection”). As far as rarities go, there are only two unreleased tracks — “Angst” and “Music for ASM”.
While it’s nice to hear something “new” from Dälek, these tracks don’t approach the cacophony of Absence or the hyper-linguistics of Abandoned Language. Since Rarities has no ambition toward cohesion, it would have been cool to hear some of Dälek’s remix work for heavy metal band Isis, their collaborations with Faust, or their work with electro-quirks Ghostigital.
Apart from their reworking of indie rock band Enon’s “In This City”, Rarities is little more than a serviceable Dälek sampler. If you’ve never heard Dälek before, start with Abandoned Language and work your way backward to from the filthy tongue of gods and griots. For those who already have their albums, let’s hope Rarities is enough to hold you over until Kid Sister’s debut album drops next year.