REVIEW: Montel Palmer – Catastropheland (2022)

Catastropheland, despite what its name suggests, instigates a state of dubbed out bliss. From the Cologne, Germany based trio Montel Palmer, Catastropheland is a lo-fi futuristic album full of post-apocalyptic minimal rhythms and tripped out, oil-slick synth ambience.

The album’s low fidelity recording wraps its contents in noisy warmth. Electronics percolate around bumping minimal synth bass lines while the occasional spoken vocal draws out in waves of delay. There’s a delightful degree of absurdity to it all, while still retaining an emotionally accessible tone.

Faintly reminding me of UK Hip-Hop group Strange U, Montel Palmer’s futuristic sound is simultaneously dystopian and relaxing. It’s not entirely uncommon to see people bemoaning our lack of ‘futurism’ as a sign of a dismal societal/global outlook, but perhaps what’s more telling is what we see in what little futurism we do have. It could be argued that ‘futurism’, as an artistic element or mode, could never accurately predict anything to come from the chaotic world we live in. But I believe an audience focusing on what futurism says about the future completely misses the point.

The future really is now.

For fans of: Bill Laswell, Meat Beat Manifesto, Ouxh,

Like Montel Palmer? Give these a listen: skintape, Strange U, Cindy

REVIEW: Wun Two – The Fat EP (2012)

If you’re approaching the album for the first time, The Fat EP may not seem as fresh as it did in 2012. Since then, Wun Two’s previously signature lofi style has been copied ad nauseum. The hip-hop meets ambient sound of ‘lofi beats’ has become synonymous with low effort imposters and white guys shopping at Muji, but maybe that’s unfair.

At least lofi beat making had a lot to offer. It’s been accessible, easy listening in our modern age of anxiety. The Fat EP acts less as an album of songs and more as one larger ambient whole. Songs fade in and out, neatly cropping the vocal tracks being accompanied.

It’s 24 minutes of jazzy boom bap hip-hop, drenched in the fuzzy warmth of an old 45. Relatively subdued and nonabrasive in its sonic qualities, The Fat EP‘s hyper-repetitive beats lure the listener into a relaxed state. With nearly all focus on atmosphere and sonic aesthetics (tonal qualities), lofi beats stretch from their hip-hop roots towards ambient meditation.

So why Biggie? While his delivery is notoriously smooth, his lyrics may be the furthest thing from soothing. Biggie Smalls is front and center for the whole ride, yet The Fat EP couldn’t be less about him. We can run through the accreditation of Biggie Smalls, but that would be missing the point. The Fat EP is a delivery system for the sonic aesthetics and emotions Wun Two wishes to get across.

Most tracks on the album work as short interludes or sketches of sonic ideas. Remixes of Machine Gun Funk, Big Poppa, and Dead Wrong are all under 2 minutes. The vocal tracks of Big Poppa, Suicidal Thoughts, and Dead Wrong all appear twice with different backing tracks, yet feel fresh on their second run through.

Suicidal Thoughts is perhaps at its most emotionally potent in its first incarnation on the album, ‘suicidal.thoughts’. Losing all credibility with the hip-hop heads of my youth, I’ll go ahead and say this is my favorite version of Suicidal Thoughts to ever appear. Same goes for Party And Bullshit (party.n.bullshit), which would have made for a more emotionally potent closer than the weaker second incarnation of Suicidal Thoughts.

It’s everything you need from the lofi beat scene in one convenient package, sans boredom.

For fans of: People Under The Stairs, Madvillain, DJ Shadow

Like Wun Two? Give these a listen: Funky DL, Amerigo Gazaway, Jehst

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