I'll Sleep When You're Dead
2007, and The El-P show is in town once again and as usual it's tooled up ready for an all out assault on just about anything. It's hard to believe that this is only the second full length from the Def Jux label boss as he has been widely regarded as the unofficial king of the underground for a decade now.
It's been almost 5 years since the awesome Fantastic Damage and all the events both artistic and political that have occurred for El-P during this time have left their mark on this record. He has crossed musical paths with a whole host of artists over the years and the result is an album packed full of guest contributions by the likes of Cat Power, Mars Volta and NIN's Trent Reznor. Refreshingly though, none of these are mentioned as 'featuring' on the track-list as explained eloquently here by the man himself. "It's the Southpark theory: When George Clooney appeared on Southpark, it was as a gay dog. That's the type of shit that makes my day." He also delivered 2004's Blue Series fringe jazz project High Water which just contributes to the ever widening artistic pallet of this man.
El-P's political leanings are slightly less tangable. He sure ain't no Republican, but his venomous world view is disguised so expertly in the abstract lyrics that the general feeling of rage and well placed, intelligent scorn is a whole lot more powerful than direct spitting. But where this record differs from it's predecessor is in scale. Politically the world is a very different place now compared to 2002 and though Fantastic Damage was a pretty angry record, this one seems to have a much larger agenda . If his debut was the venting of personal hatred the followup is global and from the outset it's awesomely clear that El Producto is definitely back up in this ma fucka.
Tasmanian Pain Coaster starts things off on a scale that is rarely matched on the rest of the record. It's big and it's scary. It's the sound of an army stamping its steel toe-capped boots to the beat, the looped piano is a call to arms. This opener is the unequivocal sound of a disaffected people marching to war and they march here in awesome numbers and with a power that is breathtaking. With Mars Volta and Matt Sweeney adding guitars to this melting pot of rage this is a force to be reckoned with. The unique thing about any record by El-P is it's ambiguity and irony. You never know when he's being serious or not. After this opener comes to an end and every hair on your body is tingling from a mixture of fear and excitement he starts the next song with the words "Bring me the dramatic intro machine," rendering this huge beginning mere irony and any power you drew from it now makes you feel a bit stupid and gullible. This is both annoying and impressive. It makes you wake up and realise that you're not listening to a normal hip hop record that can be allowed to wash over you with head nodding beats and empty lyrics. This is different and should be questioned at all times and it certainly isn't about to give up the booty this early on in the date.
So on we tread with our feet firmly on the ground. EMG uses a classic "Rock The Bells" beat and in it's Hip Hop hall of fame name-checking we see more of El-P's irony being exorcised on his very own genre. Drive sees El at his lyrical best. Using the car metaphor he gives a pretty bleak outlook on the world today. Starting with the lyric "C'mon Ma, can I borrow the keys, my generation's car-pooling with doom and disease," everything from "Jesus of Nascarith" to Falujah is put through this metaphor, and it's awesome. Flyentology creatively describes the new religion of doomed air travel, "faith v's physics," describing a plummeting plane as "the vessel of my awakening."
The album is put to bed with El-P's dystopian lullaby with Cat Power on backing vocals. Throughout this seven minute closer the beat oozes the boom of apocalyptic doom, the layered production and non-stop rhyming is very claustrophobic until everything is wiped away leaving a dirty looped beat to see us through to the end. The delicate keyboard that rides this beat seems to lull us to sleep, but I fear it's the sleep of the dead not the peaceful.
4th Apr 2007 - Tumblr4
None Shall Pass
Dingwalls, Camden, London
Luscious period drama. Beautifully put together - like Wolf Hall+.
3rd Nov 2019Read more 3.5 star reviews
Throw away Breaking Bad expansion piece with little tension or jeopardy.
13th Oct 2019Read more 2.5 star reviews
Stylish but incoherent Cheney biopic, hampered by another one-note turn from Bale.
5th Oct 2019Read more 3 star reviews
Mind numbingingly basic biopic, saved by the nostalgia for the music and moments.
5th Oct 2019Read more 2 star reviews
Interesting doc following the lives of 3 teens becoming adults, tied together by skateboarding.
28th Sep 2019Read more 3 star reviews
Painful, occasionally uplifting viewing with a grief stricken central performance.
28th Sep 2019Read more 3.5 star reviews
Into the Spider-Verse
Stylish, trippy concept animated superhero flick with some great moments.
21st Sep 2019Read more 3.5 star reviews
Young adult upgrade, with just enough Conchords humour to keep it enjoyable.
22nd Aug 2019Read more 2.5 star reviews
Decent Aussie surf drama, that nostalgically investigates the soul of surfing before losing i… https://t.co/qW3B55bCcG.
14th Aug 2019Read more star reviews
Somewhat unremarkable, but enjoyable music drama. Bit long.
13th Jul 2019Read more 3.5 star reviews
Predictably grim seaside coming-of-age indie. Decent enough, but you’ve seen it before
13th Jul 2019Read more 3 star reviews
Stylish sequel, hampered in places by some authentic 1960s pacing.
30th Jun 2019Read more 3.5 star reviews
Out-there kids fable with an old school Tim Burton vibe.
16th Jun 2019Read more 3 star reviews
Rock solid 90s style indie movie. Beautifully assembled at all levels.
31st May 2019Read more 4 star reviews
Fairly one-sided Police doc about the seemingly dislikeable trio.
7th May 2019Read more 2.5 star reviews
Decent, but slightly muddled parenting indie.
28th Apr 2019Read more 3 star reviews
Forgettable re-imagining of a not totally unforgettable Disney classic.
27th Apr 2019Read more 3.5 star reviews
Solid stop-motion animation that’s light on plot, but high on charm.
12th Apr 2019Read more 2.5 star reviews
Surprisingly stylish sequel that drops the ball in classic straight-to-VHS style halfway through.
6th Apr 2019Read more 3 star reviews
Opaque Alaskan thriller from Jeremy Saulnier, with little regard for convention.
1st Apr 2019Read more 3 star reviews
Low key indie spin on Rambo, as a father and daughter try and live off grid.
28th Mar 2019Read more 3.5 star reviews
Fun biopic that runs out of steam about when the band did.
25th Mar 2019Read more 3 star reviews
A diminished remake of Deadpool 1. Occasional LOLs.
25th Mar 2019Read more 2.5 star reviews
High concept sci-fi that stretches its concept a little thin.
19th Mar 2019Read more 3 star reviews
Unremarkable, cliche-ridden actioner. Utterly lacking in suspense.
17th Mar 2019Read more 2.5 star reviews
A disjointed patchwork of homages, nods and rip offs from dozens of other movies, with little to offer of its own.
11th Mar 2019Read more 2 star reviews
Laborious, high-concept alien horror. While the concept is good, the beats are all well telegraphed.
2nd Mar 2019Read more 3 star reviews
Witty, if a little obvious, post-meta rom-com.
1st Mar 2019Read more 3 star reviews
The Second Part
It’s literally a re-hash of all the themes of the first one with a few less jokes.
23rd Feb 2019Read more 3 star reviews
Slight, but sometime engaging iPhone feature.
26th Jan 2019Read more 3 star reviews
Decent modern spin on Mary Poppins. Bit uneven, but a nice soundtrack helps things along.
20th Jan 2019Read more 3.5 star reviews
Bog standard entry into The-Rock-action-movie genre. As much personality as a computer game.
3rd Jan 2019Read more 3 star reviews
This time it’s really, really serious. Seriously.
27th Dec 2018Read more 3 star reviews
It’s a musical ...but slick direction makes it just about bearable.
24th Dec 2018Read more 3 star reviews
Pop-culture bouillabaisse, hampered by numerous terrible accents.
24th Dec 2018Read more 3.5 star reviews
Pacey, emotional, old-fashioned indie pic. Beautifully observed.
15th Dec 2018Read more 4 star reviews
Surprisingly underwhelming biopic that doesn’t find its feet until 20m from the end.
24th Nov 2018Read more 3.5 star reviews
Utterly derivative / thoroughly enjoyable ‘Heat’ rip off.
21st Nov 2018Read more 3.5 star reviews
Well crafted character study, with some nice touches.
10th Nov 2018Read more 4 star reviews
Brutal revenge thriller. Stylish and violent, with plenty of explanation left to the imagination.
4th Nov 2018Read more 3.5 star reviews
Intense indie drama from Netflix. Impeccably acted and directed.
27th Oct 2018Read more 4 star reviews
Disappointingly unoriginal superhero movie, complete with dull CGI action.
27th Oct 2018Read more 2 star reviews
Continually clichéd rock romance that never breaks into originality.
13th Oct 2018Read more 1.5 star reviews
Dry Morrissey biopic that gets arty by avoiding using any Smiths songs.
7th Oct 2018Read more 3 star reviews
Decent rehash of vintage indie movie tropes.
7th Oct 2018Read more 3 star reviews
Mumblingly wordy western that’s big on self-importance and low on drama and tension.
25th Sep 2018Read more 2.5 star reviews
Muddled biopic with occasional moments of eccentric comedy madness.
22nd Sep 2018Read more 2.5 star reviews
Like a long episode of Girls that’s all about one of the more boring characters.
16th Sep 2018Read more 2 star reviews
Slightly confused slice of post-Michael Mann LA crime.
7th Sep 2018Read more 2.5 star reviews