US - Minnesota - Full Moon 106 - 05/23/05
All Things Fixable
Anticon-man Alias returns with another full-length, and it seems he's vowed to never rap again. This might piss some people off, but it won't piss me off unless the instrumentals are shit, which I probably hate even more than bad singing or rapping. Two reference points throughout this year:
Boom Bip, great instrumentals; Daedalus, terrible instrumentals (just my opinion, of course).
Anyway, we begin with the title track. "All Things Fixable" opens softly, playing quietly for about a minute. Then, distorted drum machine enters to tease, bringing us to the beat-drop. The beat is good, drums sounding electronic and full. A bassline waits till the last minute and a half of the song to enter. It's
a deep and sustained 3-chord sine-hum that you can feel in your chest if you've got the volume up a little and some good woofers. A nice song. "Kill My Television" continues. It opens like the title track, with soft and weird sounds for 30 seconds, a drum tease, and then the beat-drop. Following the form of the title track
even more closely, Alias waits to drop the bass line. This one is more punchy and staccato, and underlies Alias' subtle, low-in-the-mix cuts. "Snow In Hollis" reminds me of old Boom Bip, but certainly not in a derivative way. The soft- playing time is again cut in half as we progress, a move I wonder is intentional?
After about 15 seconds of quiet-play, alias drops the boom-bip-esque drums. Another formal or structural device that Alias likes to use is dropping the drums out for just a couple bars at the exact opportune time to let the ears adjust on those play-sounds underneath. The songwriting here is wry, and interesting.
"Touring Bren Pop Song" takes the album on a 90 degree turn. Guitar and Alias' singing greet. Again waiting to drop that beat, the one in this song is really good. The song itself is odd though, and may not even work, because it isn't allowed to really be anything but a short song where Alias sings and plays guitar. Huh. "Fuel the Fear Without Words" contains a sine-melody that is really damned nice, playing over another chest-shaking sine-bass. Interestingly, Alias again chooses to cut the song short, before it seems rightly finished, perhaps to match the move in the pop song. It's a cool move I suppose, but this makes both of these other-wise great songs kind of poor mix-tape material. I guess that's what he wanted.
"Half the Devil" gets us back to big, layered drum sampling. An understated song that has a dark quality. "Mutedbobmailidada" seems involved with similar territory. This is a deep song, but paradoxically one that never makes its point with a heavy hand. The prettily titled "Autumn Afternoons" uses a pop-sound. These are the times when I get reminded of old Boom Bip, and I like these moments probably the best on the album. This song pairs off with "Snow in Hollis" quite well. The buried cuts are ace in this tune.
"Pretty (remix of lost Sole song)" promises to be interesting. Old man Sole's great voice is a great, great thing to hear on this other-wise vocally stark album. No disrespect to Alias, but this song probably functions as the best 'single' on the album. The song is certainly an important point on the album, no matter how you look at it. Regardless, I am fond of the way the song works in context, marking the half-way point. This is also the longest song on the record, at 5:19.
"Wordless Man" is a great title for a song on this album! And this is another good tune from Alias. It's a short pop-song with a child-like melody over street-heavy drumming. "Grey Days" is another darkened song that remains understated. "Clear Skies" follows with understated happiness. "Life Is but a..." combines with those two to form a very strong triumverate. This is a really nice place on the record.
Well, "Penny Drops" might be the last time we'll ever hear Alias rap (I'm kidding about that, btw), and while it really doesn't piss me off, persay, it would be a damn shame to lose his voice. This song is great work. Alias has a wonderful vocal personality. "You're making music to drop a penny in". This is a cut that will age really well, and it's inclusion on this record makes All Things Fixable the album truely timeless. Another great sequencing move, making us wait for that song. It begins the denouement. The last two songs seem almost deaths. "Something Borrowed" and "Lost Song One" tie the end of the album off with strong beats and synth-sheets of sound that greet the cloaked death-bringer.
All Things Fixable is an album of personality that remains wryly cohesive. It is truely a piece of history for any Anticon fan, and definitely something to look into if you're interested in instrumental hip-hop and electronic music.
Copyright © 2005 Bill Banks