The focus throughout the nine tracks is on American occult traditions and, as such, there is a heavy and intoxicating influence of voodoo, magic and, at times, spirituality. These themes can be primarily heard in the eerie samples of street tarot readings, wild vocal chanting and the hypnotic nature of the rhythms buried within.
[Listen] Straight out of Washington DC comes this intriguing new release by Maduro, a prolific electronic hip-hop artist with no less than eight albums under his belt since just 2006. His 9th, Black Magic Kingdom, is his 2nd full-length digital release in 2011 alone and it’s a concept album based around field recordings taken in French Quarter of New Orleans during the summer of 2011.
The focus throughout the nine tracks is on American occult traditions and, as such, there is a heavy and intoxicating influence of voodoo, magic and, at times, spirituality. These themes can be primarily heard in the eerie samples of street tarot readings, wild vocal chanting and the hypnotic nature of the rhythms buried within. On top of this, there are multiple layers of musicians from the New Orleans area doing their thing, providing jazzy drum breaks, brass ensemble stabs and twisted ragtime piano lines. These elements fuse seamlessly and are particularly well used on the stand out tracks such as “Catnaps & Cabarets,” “King of Swords” and the title track.
The other big feature of this record comes from the use of industrial-style hip-hop rhythms, which is reminiscent of old-skool Digital Hardcore artists such as Bomb20 and EC8OR at times, but most listeners will probably draw comparisons with the rough, distorted sampling techniques of guys like Trent Reznor. Having said all this, it should be known that Maduro uses a much richer palette of sounds than the musicians mentioned above, including some more tribal-esque instrumentation, which gives the whole album an other-worldly feel, perfectly matching the overall concept and dark themes.
If there’s one criticism, it is that things can feel a little overly rigid at times; the same blocks of samples and effects used over and over in certain tracks, which offer little to keep listeners engaged over a long period of time. This is only a minor, personal gripe, however, and considering how quickly this record has come together, with only a few months from the taking of the initial samples to the actual releasing of the final product, you’ve got to appreciate the will, talents and sheer bloody-mindedness of this DC producer.
So there you have it. I’m off to see what delights Maduro may have served up in the past – if there’s anything as good as some of the tracks of Black Magic Kingdom, I’m in for a real treat.