Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Unsung -- The Paint

"The Paint", an album by rapper Unsung, is chock full of thoughtful, piercing lyrics, wonderfully juxtaposed against a fantastic menagerie of sounds. As talented artists often do, Unsung cinches together an array of genres to create his own elusive style.

"If You Are Still Here..." opens the album with coolly ambient, open chords. The piece crescendoes into a pulsing, rhythmic piece, complete with shuffling scratches, nicely rendered synths, setting a meticulous pace for a thoughtful hip-hop album.

A lone, steadily beaten block brings in second track "Constant", and then Unsung's words burst into consciousness, delving straight into the listener's mind and calling upon powerful images of childhood and desperation that is bolstered by a melancholy electric piano.

Third track "Moments Ago and Before" marches in with a deceptively charming piano harmony, but the tone  is more aggressive, the thoughts more declarative. It shifts agitatedly into "Still Life Features" (Prod. by Tapureka), a driving, rare piece that weaves dubby, distorted sounds with snares and trembling synths into timeless forms.

Track five, "Broad Shoulders of the Earth", glimmers with industry, full of oily color and texture, and "Briny" wields a sly, alley-catlike jazz backbeat and then constructs a vivid word poem in dizzying fast lazy drawl: "They only whisper secrets I could never keep/ Because no trusting mouth of my friends/ Meets a trusting ear on me."

Track seven,"That Dark Works Perfectly", begins more laid back in tone than the tracks before it, building and storing a mass of frenetic energy that culminates in sung vocals that are at once self-conscious and sublime against a sorrowfully revolving keyboard and a booming beat.

Warm, organ-like notes begin eighth track "...I Will Wait", a quietly ambient instrumental piece that gently lulls the listener into an entirely different listening pattern. It leads seamlessly into "Head Coma", a track that starts out placid, grows cheerfully insistent, and finally becomes a catchy groove over the abstracted but powerful words.

Track ten, "Wake for Waves" is sinister, curling like black smoke around bass and swelling into the floating words and trembling notes."Under a Lemon Tree" begins sharply and then continues in the same vein of rich word poems that recline languidly over their own vivid imagery: "Our hands are printed words with cursive overtones fingers straight but twist around each other ivy on the face of stone."

Twelfth track "Old and Dead" begins quietly, at first jesting lightly with distorted vocals, molding itself into an agile poem.

"Thomas, Full of Fireflies" exhibits a transcendent, meditative beat, humming a lament into a scant reminder of a gospel; "Cloud Cover" sits loftily above it, using ever-so light rhythms over quiet eulogies that render impressions of nostalgia and loss.

"Empty Stage", a resigned farewell to an invisible audience, slips off into silence; it's a formidable veneer to finish this album of countless lyrics, recollections and patterns.

All in all: Unsung moves his listeners through his stage, at points jolting them into awareness only to becalm them into silence. He escapes tired conventions of endless loops and repetitions by crafting gradual buildups that culminate in vividly evocative poetry.

Available on Unsung's Page, name your own price. Unsung is also on Facebook.

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