Friday, November 9, 2007
Track Marks:Full Fix
Two long-timers leave their bullshit at the door....
The Inevitable Rise and Liberation of Niggytardust
It was bound to happen. After Radiohead decided to test the boundaries of modern music marketing and distribution, others would follow suit for good or ill. Most major artists too scared to gamble with their income to really go all out, too many unsigned and 'indie' dying for attention ready to give away for free what listeners haven't yet learned to respect. Niggytardust appears to be just as happy as Radiohead to simply see what happens when you let your creations loose.
Saul Williams comes out of the woodwork for most casual music fans, but he's been around forever. Known mostly for his work being one of the best during the resurgence of popularity for spoken word poetry in the 90's, but more importantly bringing worldwide attention to the whole of the scene through SLAM, a movie co-written and starring Williams that garnered the 1998 Grand Jury Prize at the Sundance Film Festival.
Both of his prior releases, 2001's Amethyst Rockstar and 2004's Self Titled, were solid efforts with interesting aspects of their own, however it always came across as if he were struggling to shake the confines of his spoken word over beat formula and actually tread into music that could reach a wider audience beyond his usual fans, and the happy few outsiders that managed to find him anyway.
With new cohort Trent Reznor at his back, Saul's just kicked in the damn door.
Reznor brings some of his most inspired music in years. Sprawling, layered arrangements running the gamut from old school drum machine hip hop, to the kind of tracks Bloc Party fans probably wished they could've included more of on their last effort A Weekend in the City, even as fantastic as it was.
Williams manages to merge his already perfected spoken word with a more honed ability to ride a beat. More surprisingly he brings to the forefront his prowess as a legitimate lead singer previously only hinted at compared to his output here.
"WTF!"'s tinkling piano chords, ominous background, and driving beat starts out classic Reznor with a sprinkling of 808 while combined vocal efforts lift it far past that alone to a hypnotic trance by tracks end. "Scared Money"'s smooth horns and cymbal beat carry Williams through arguably one of his best verses ever. While covering U2's Sunday Bloody Sunday, Reznor twists nearly everything but the inescapable marching drum, breathing new life into an unfortunately overplayed goodie. Williams croons, chants, and hums excitedly throughout sounding like he's been dying to do this song as long as he's known it, and it doesn't disappoint in the least as easy as it would have been to miss completely on such a well known track.
"When I say Niggy, You say nothing", the chorus of Niggytardust in the context of folk not in a position to shout it at a hip hop show, cuts to the heart of his often times hilarious but pressing observations. Crazed out vocoder and sizzurp verses inflected with nowadays hard to find legitimate irony follow up to seal the deal with a respective wink and nod.
Beginning to end, an enthralling effort thick enough for repeated listens, with a sound familiar and fresh at the same. Bringing out the absolute best in each other and expanding on each other's vision, this is a welcome surprise and can be had either for $5 at 320 kbps or $Free Dollars at 192kbps. While not the first to do it, they come out ready for fisticuffs with tracks worthy of the attention being 2nd will provide. Better this than Brit Brit regardless of your take.
Get the album at The Inevitable Rise and Liberation of Niggytardust