Hprizm :: City of On (Svakt)

What Hprizm delivers is a continuous mix designed specifically to fill one side of a slab o’ wax. This unusual format will form the basis of all scheduled output from newly-formed record label Svakt, with the next one being served up by Aoki Takamasa. This means you get around 20 minutes of music for your hard-earned dollar and the results are unashamedly experimental.

Hprizm ‘City of On’

[Release page] Hprizm, in case you were (like me) caught completely unaware, is the alter ego of High Priest, the innovative vocalist and musician of Antipop Consortium fame. For this reason, I was expecting a solo hip-hop record by a rapper from one of the best nu-school outfits in the business. However, what’s presented is rather strange and not at all what I expected. Firstly, there’s no rapping. Secondly, there’s virtually no hip-hop. And thirdly, there are no tracks.

What Hprizm delivers is a continuous mix designed specifically to fill one side of a slab o’ wax. This unusual format will form the basis of all scheduled output from newly-formed record label Svakt, with the next one being served up by Aoki Takamasa. This means you get around 20 minutes of music for your hard-earned dollar and the results are unashamedly experimental.

City Of On begins with static-distortion, dogs barking and a sort of screaming man. It’s a curious start and there’s not much by the way of a let up for the next six minutes or so. The flavour of this first third is dominated by hard techno kicks, frenetic percussion and jibbering vocal loops, with the latter two eventually giving way to more Antipop-style effects. Hard breaks come in after this section, along with distorted synth parts that malfunction uneasily every now and then, forcing you to find the beat again at the start of each bar. Around the halfway mark, there’s a brief let up in the virulent drums to make way for more Eastern sounds and disturbing synthesis, both of which reminded me of Carmine Coppola’s ultra-dark soundtrack for Apocalypse Now. The final third of the record is given over to more textural synth work, eventually ending up in the realms of Mexican electronic composer Murcof. It is also, to my ears, the most pleasing section, as it’s easier to assimilate compared with the rest of this dense, complicated, beat-heavy work.

While I admire this record for its experimentalism and its richly woven musical tapestry, I wouldn’t recommend it to fans of Antipop Consortium—it’s a complete break from the collective’s hip-hop sound. However, I can easily see City Of On being put to work as a urban gothic soundtrack. It’s worth checking out, for sure—it’ll take you a few listens to peal away the layers and hear what lies beneath the audio assault.

City of On will be released September 2012 as a limited-edition one-sided vinyl on Svakt. [Release page]

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