Under-underground MC Aesop Rock's Float begins with the terse exhalation, "So I heard y'all wanna float" and continues with warp-speed rhyming over minimal accompaniment that could easily be mistaken for a hip hop Young Marble Giants if the incessant hi-hat tics weren't double-backing. In this maddening mix, a stream-of-consciousness rhyme allows for cerebrum-burning art-house statements like "The villain of my Kabuki hologram/I hobble with hollow hands" and "I'm Bilbo Baggins with stilts tippin' the petri dish/Beached fish on the shores with a feast of wits eats the corpse." This is a long way from "The roof, the roof, the roof is on fire."
A startling combination of agile fluidity rapped over frighteningly skeletal beats, Aesop Rock is bohemian rambler that updates the literary Digable Planets formula with the ferocity of a punk purist. With a burning baritone reminiscent of Michael Franti, the hyper-literate Aesop Rock singes with beat-poetry ambling so dense that his double-tracked vocals fall over each other into hypnotic discordance. The sound of Aesop Rock's tumbling cadence is continuously flowing and mostly-incomprehensible due to its sheer velocity. If Canibus and RZA can shoot polysyllabic verbosity with the funky syncopation of a Bootsy Collins bass-line, Aesop's cadence is more analogous to a marching band or a machine gun. Jackhammer flow over dark production, including dub-influenced guitar lines, funkily minimal percolating percussion, vibraphone echo, incessant reed ensembles, and the occasional scratchy soul workout? Yeah, I think we want to float.
Mush Recordings, www.dirtyloop.com
Christopher R. Weingarten