By Dan McQuade
By Brian McManus
By Hilary Hughes
By Jena Ardell
By Brian McManus
By Chaz Kangas
By Sound of the City
By Peter Gerstenzang
Every once in a while some lazyass future NPR-fodder Bob Costas wannabe idgit nostalgic for a past he barely remembers comes up to me and says, "Yo, Scott, so like, um, uh, have I missed anything this year, cuz like it don't seem like anything's any good man, cuz like it's all been done and shit, and like do you think the new Jay-Z will be good, and did you hear that Wilco album?"
After I stop crying, I tell them to buy some Dälek, be it '98's debut, Negro, Necro, Nekros, or this year's already seemingly forgotten From Filthy Tongue of Gods and Griots. And then I run home and lock the door. I know it's a lost cause (these are the same people who complain about Clear Channel and major labels even though they never listen to the radio or buy CDs), but I keep trying anyway.
For you see, whereas most mod prod is one big fat dead monochrome wave of compressed hot air blasting out of my CD player, Newark trio Dälek (which is to say Dälek, Oktopus, and Still) use washes of sound over and under (and even sideways down) the rudiments of beat and rhyme. They play all sides sonically as if they've actually heard of the words "stereo" and "separation." (You laugh, but most recent rock and rap could be put out in mono and no one would be the wiser.)
Despite the four-year gap, their new one takes up where the last one left off. What first strikes you is the heightened drama of their sound. Every track seems to grow larger and reach for noises that weren't there a second before. Like for instance, brown gods and Bomb Squad-worthy skrees of sirenage and downtempo (de)tuning let "Spiritual Healing" roll down hills where it gathers momentum and speed until it lands in a pit with drowning rednecks who die in their attempts to turn black rock into gold, whereas "Speak Volumes" travels up into heaven, cuz feedback and distorted bursts of fuzz speak in a language the angels truly understand.
" . . . From Mole Hills" is where the evil axis of Flying Saucer Attack/Jack Dangers/New Kingdom meet to form blocs of commie beauty from bongs of fury. (Are Dälek singular? Unique? In select company at the very least. New Kingdom's '96 Paradise Don't Come Cheap could be their template, given its similar tonnage and heft capable of moving mountains and minds. If you check out Dälek's collab with Kid606, Kid606's collabs with Techno Animal, and Justin of Techno Animal's collab with New Kingdom on his Ice project, you'll learn a lot about people with a bass-heavy hunger for transcendence thru the reverberation of soul via ion-smashing decibel levels.)
The sitars 'n' tablas 'n' slow-mo preaching in "Trampled Brethren" equal cough-syrup retribution from the ghost of DJ Skrew on any cat willing to shake your hand whilst rummaging through your 401(k) behind star-spangled curtains. And "Forever Close My Eyes" and "Classical Homicide" say so much so loudly and brilliantly that it's hard to keep from shouting at the boobs and whiners who always say there's nothing going on: "You were waiting for what? A new My Bloody friggin' Valentine album? Dälek = New Jersey. Bruce Springsteen = Dubya! Get yur head out yur ass, fanboy! At least they're fucking trying! What the fuck have you done?" (Um, apologies to Minor Threat.) Dälek will smile when Dälek's dead. I'm smiling for miles knowing their beauty, bloodshed, and art are meant to be a lasting tribute to the futility of beauty, bloodshed, and art in the face of smiling indifference to beauty, bloodshed, and art in this here krispy kremey land of ours. Plus, they're great to listen to when you're stoned.