#16

November 9, 2010

Deltron 3030 – Deltron 3030
hip-hop
2000

Deltron 3030 is a groundbreaking album of futuristic geek-hop that constantly delivers the goods, thanks to Dan the Automator’s hugely creative, kick-ass production, Del tha Funkee Homosapien’s well-baked yet highly literate delivery, Kid Koala’s expert, nimbleDeltron 3030 - Deltron 3030 turntablism, a series of A+ guest appearances (including Damon Albarn, Prince Paul, Peanut Butter Wolf and an unlikely appearance by Sean Lennon) and the huge number of SF/tech/geek references littered throughout the album (Microsoft, William Gibson, neural implants, interplanetary travel and mecha, to name just a few). Most of the songs establish various overarching details of the album’s futuristic setting, giving the album a very concrete sense of place and time, however there is also a loose story running throughout – Del plays a freedom fighter battling the regimes of a dystopian future while participating in a series of intergalactic rap battles against assorted fiendish foes, and by album’s end there’s no doubt that Del has the goods to be kicking all the ass that he claims he does. This plotline is tied together nicely via a sequence of entertaining snippets and interludes, which drive the narrative forward, further establish the environmental, political and social backdrop and infuse the album with a feeling of true cohesion. If you’re looking to try before you buy I recommend checking out “3030”, “Virus”, “Upgrade (A Brymar College Course)”, “Battlesong” and “Love Story”. It’s hard not to feel like every last element falls perfectly into place on this one, though – it’s one of my favourite hip-hop albums of the decade, and sets the bar extremely high for its perpetually delayed sequel.

#20

November 5, 2010

The Fiery Furnaces – Rehearsing My Choir
progressive-pop, experimental-pop
2005

Rehearsing My Choir is a semi-fabricated-but-seemingly-largely-truthful account of the life and marriage of Matt and Eleanor Friedberger’s grandmother, the 83-year-old Olga Sarantos, who also contributes vocals for the majority of the album. Interestingly, in a development that proved to be more than some listeners could bear, she sounds like something along the lines of an androgynous cartoon character. Convoluted and impossibly layered, it’s yet another album in the Fiery Furnaces catalogue that greatly rewards repeat listens. Across 52 minutes Sarantos delivers a finely detailed account of her life, loves and personal challenges, scattered across multiple decades and locations, all set to a backing of wildly eclectic instrumentation including electronica, toy piano, noise rock, blues, folk, electro-pop, church organs, a capella and ragtime. There’s an almost ridiculous quantity of plot crammed into this album – infidelity, gypsy curses, wartime separation, the magical medicinal properties of doughnuts, gun The Fiery Furnaces - Rehearsing My Choirfights, bowling alleys, failed marriages, inventive cookery, meeting the in-laws while drunk (“I reached for the arm of the armchair … and missed”), questionable church communities, adventurous road trips, marriages, deaths, a story of two Kevins (or, “you mean two jerks“, as Olga informs us) and, of course, the rehearsing of one’s choir. The interplay between Olga and Eleanor, who acts as something of a muse, narrator and voice of the past all at once, is spectacular, and provides some of the most clever, funny & poignant lyrics the group have ever conjured. Many parts of the album are ingeniously self-referential, and the whole production ties together to create a sense of wholeness that every concept album should possess. An incredible journey from start to finish.