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Object - Pandemic

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Artist: Object

Album: Pandemic

Label: Quatermass

Review date: Aug. 17, 2004

Picking at the carrion of hip hop like a futurist vulture, Lawrence English, a.k.a. Object, provides listeners with an unnerving outlook on digital composition. Resurrecting a project long dormant , Lawrence has delivered a new milestone in his aural dementia. His taut, minimalist beats bear something in common with Plastikman; both artists are patient and deliberate composers who understand subtlety and space. Armed with an industrial palette of blips, crunches and hiccups, Object paints leftfield nightmares with sulky precision.

Assisting in Object’s process of deconstruction is MC Ouro. His vocal appearance on four tracks doesn’t detract from the grim proceedings, but in spots it sounds as if the MC is trapped and desperate to escape Lawrence’s minimalist labyrinth. An uncomfortable listen, the track “Floating” exposes a defeated lyricist who puzzles over “the significance of sleeping rain” as though he were condemned for all eternity to do so; a hip-hop anti-hero without a single hope left.

Over the course of 10 tracks, Pandemic manages to devalue and abuse much of what traditional hip-hop holds most dear. Head-nodding beats are subtracted of any sexual overtone, and stretched thinly over darkened electronic soundscapes. The faint whispers and hisses that flutter peripherally in the mix keep the ears constantly on edge – the record collects the things that go bump in the night, and arranges them into stark hieroglyphs of sound. Even the presence of a human voice is discomforting, as evidenced on the track “Fluid Note.” With a paranoid, accusatory tone, Ouro takes the common currency of rap and returns a perfect negative of the conventional MC.

For such a pill-scarred and bleak disc, Pandemic is surprisingly endearing. It is hard not to be lured by the hollowed out dub of “Insideout,” with its sub bass and flanged rim shots. Hypnotic yet not repetitive, the track sums up the alien charms of the record. Through protracted audio derangement, Object taps a new level of subconscious horror.

By Casey Rae-Hunter

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