Dusted Reviews

Dälek - From Filthy Tongue Of Gods And Griots

today features
reviews charts
labels writers
info donate

Search by Artist

Sign up here to receive weekly updates from Dusted

email address

Recent Reviews

Dusted Reviews

Artist: Dälek

Album: From Filthy Tongue Of Gods And Griots

Label: Ipecac

Review date: Oct. 20, 2002

Expansive, Noisy Hip-Hop

I once had a ten-minute conversation with Dälek’s producer Oktopus in which we discussed My Bloody Valentine, 7 Seconds, William Hooker, Can and Sabir Mateen. And while plenty of hip hop artists know a lot about all sorts of obscure music, I’m guessing that none know krautrock, free jazz or indie rock the way Dälek (pronounced “Dialec”) does. And I’m also pretty sure that no other hip hop album manifests the basic tenets of those genres as obviously as From Filthy Tongue Of Gods And Griots. Dälek’s music is filled with unapologetic bursts of noise, simple but oblique lyrics and complex, winding song structures, all of which are more common in avant-rock than in hip hop. His fantastic debut, Negro Necro Nekros, did feature Flying Saucer Attack-like bursts of feedback and long, rich drones, but From Filthy Tongue makes Dälek’s ties with noise-rock even more obvious. Remove the lumbering, spoken vocal and gorgeous tambura/organ opening from “Forever Close My Eyes,” and no one would recognize it as anything but a really good rock song, with live drums and three guitars dancing around each other during the instrumental sections.

It would be foolish to argue that Dälek’s love of krautrock and noise makes him better than other hip-hop acts. But any rock fan who went nuts over Cannibal Ox’s The Cold Vein (of which a friend of mine once exclaimed, “It sounds like Brian Eno producing a hip-hop record!”) should love Dälek, and even those who aren’t fans of his aesthetic would have to admit that he integrates his influences extremely well. This isn’t a Judgment Night/Black Jack Johnson-style shotgun wedding.

One major reason for that has to do with Dälek’s vocals, which, despite containing plenty of hip-hop signifiers (they’re spoken rather than sung, they rhyme, and they contain references to hip-hop culture), are quite different from those of other MCs. First, his slow delivery reveals that he doesn’t care about proving he’s a virtuoso at the mic. Second, his lyrics are impressionistic rather than specific: “Yesterdays don’t matter now/ You’re gone/ Shattered glass of empty bottles cut my palms.” Third, his lyrics are relentlessly dark — some might even say they’re humorless, and while Dälek does occasionally become cartoonish (like on “Classical Homicide,” when he repeatedly barks, “Why question my art?”), a lighter, more virtuosic style wouldn’t work over Oktopus and turntablist Still’s droning, noisy backing tracks.

Oktopus and Still, for their part, mostly keep their beats slow and simple, directing most of their attention toward texture rather than rhythm. They can’t help but interrupt their most conventionally funky moments (like the first three minutes of “Voices of the Ether”) with blasts of distortion. And two of the best tracks here (“Black Smoke Rises” and the aformentioned “Forever Close My Eyes”) don’t have any hip-hop-like beats at all. The twelve-minute “Black Smoke Rises,” an unbelievably harsh collection of wavering feedback squeals, icy keyboard bleats and poetry, sounds like an utterly freeform cross between early musique concrete and Steve Reich’s Pendelum Music. Most people wouldn’t call it hip-hop, but Dälek's indifference to this fact is, in this noise-rock fan’s opinion, one of his many redeeming qualities.

By Charlie Wilmoth

Other Reviews of Dälek


Abandoned Language

Deadverse Massive Vol. 1: Dälek Rarities 1999-2006

Gutter Tactics

Read More

View all articles by Charlie Wilmoth

Find out more about Ipecac

©2002-2011 Dusted Magazine. All Rights Reserved.