High Elders, 'Surrounded By Lights'
Info: A combination of Delaware hip-hop veteran Gentle Jones and Irish experimental producer Auxiliary Phoenix, High Elders bring forth an album that you'd never expect to come across on these shores. The debut album, Forest of Pencils is a supremely enjoyable modern hip-hop recording which is of the same ilk as hip-hop act CunninLynguists and more specifically CL's Kno's album Death Is Silent with short trips into LemonJelly strangeness.
The short intro 'URL' gives an instant hint as to the type of experimental hip-hop you can expect on the album, leading to the house grooves of second track 'Churches' (feat Marchitect & Pooch), the track swoons from side to side and has an ambient feel, definitely one of the albums strong points. Next up is 'Surrounded By Lights' (above video), which takes on a darker mood, and while the lyrics are simple, the music packs a punch and has a swagger to it. The manic 'Ethernet' leads to another favourite track of mine, the almost funky soul 'Rappers Are Jerks', featuring some nostalgic record scrubbing, which you don't hear as much as you'd like these days.
High Elders, 'Rappers Are Jerks'
From this point on the likes of 'Run Sinner Run' and 'Mean World' really see High Elders dive into experimental zones and it's very pleasing, it also provides a nice balance to the earlier part of the album giving the best of both worlds between orthodox and innovative styles. The album closes on the very enjoyable 'Top Cat' with it's almost 'Unfinished Sympathy' intro and the quirky and back to basics '21 Grams' (feat. Jimmy Quail). There's very little I could not like about this album, Forest of Pencils is a very worthy contemporary hip-hop album and proves what I've been saying for years, you put a guy from Delaware and a guy from Carlow together in a recording studio, you better watch out. Top marks.
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