Dälek: Distorted Prose
f you've come to Dälek's Absence opener "Distorted Prose" wanting hip-hop innovation you'd be better off taking your backpack down to the local science fair than settling down in front of the speakers. This is music for brooding along to, for grinding teeth and festering grudges with. This is not a music rooted in MBV's keyboard feedback layered whine, but in tar black oil thick discontented noise.
Dälek stand as a looser, darker beast than their probably closest musical counterpart New Kingdom who seemed to revel in stumbling chemical highs rather than lurking ominously in the depressive lows of modern American life. Like Consolidated seduced by the Sith, Dälek preach a gospel of class against class, shrieking tumour removals, and burning abortion clinics.
It rolls out sedately enough with a few bars of a Cypress Hill's Muggs style old school double bass loop and some so-so standard beats that even RZA could program without too much bother. Coincidentally enough, this is how the Muggs-produced Ice Cube track “Tear This Mother Up” also kicks off, and when Dälek spits “A bastard child of Reaganomics posed in a B-Boy stance / Make our leaders play minstrel, left with none to lead our people / How the fuck am I gonna shake your hand, when we never been seen as equals?” it brings to mind that same focused fury. Then comes the noise and the whole thing changes.
The deep with noise whine of corroded metal on brick and rusted nails; a horrifying loop that Merzbow and Hiroshige would've been proud to have cultivated from field recordings of sirens, burning cities, and a thousand bedridden screams untempered by drips or pills. These steady blasts of black grinding, scratching, buzzing clatter fall into that now not so mysterious area of popular music that somehow slips between noise and melody (or more appropriately perhaps melody through noise). These smeared punctuation points turn what would be a stripped piece of political hip-hop into nu-urban-horror OST. This is a rotting festering Meat Beat Manifesto groove on abused and greasy vinyl, this is too human for MBV’s studio fartery; it’s just too messy. We’re talking in the ballpark of Krautrock, Flying Saucer Attack, mid-period Third Eye Foundation, Tricky's Pre-Millennium Tension and NiN's Fixed but with a purer, more righteous wrath pushing the studio buttons.
It’s not so much that the beats have been turned up too high; it’s that the words (these opinions) are having to fight to be heard beyond the detritus of our day to day life. Every new wave track brings elements you missed from the scrap. Like feedback gales sweeping urbanscapes, these seconds of overbearing static sending litter, spent cartridges, newspaper headlines, discarded syringes, and our father who art in McDonalds™ wrappers turning through the air.
These waves are the loud sound of disgust at our civilized society; a collective that's become sick of the hypocrisy, the shit (that's literally) on the streets, domestic abuse, deep-rooted racism of our culture, lies, and institutionalised violence. The album's called Absence as in absence of humanity, but there's way too much humanity thrown into the aural mix here. It's ugly, spiteful, discontented, and angry; just like you and me.
By: Scott McKeating
Published on: 2005-03-23