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Mental Combat 914

Author: Blaze
Wednesday, 25 June 2008
The production team of Blue Sky Black Death have been one of those golden duos that have managed to captivate listeners with their perfectly executed cinematic style. They’ve already blessed tracks from Sabac Red, Rob Sonic, Virtuoso, Chief Kamanchi, Wise Intelligent, as well as Wu-Tang fringe members Holocaust and Hell Razah. As gathered from their moniker and the MCs they’ve worked with, it would be a correct assumption that they favour the darker side of music. There’s nothing remotely sunshiney in their beats, though at times the sound has an almost mournful soulfulness to it that can be somewhat perplexingly uplifting. It’s definitely a unique angle that could find them comparatively closer to the quieter moments of such a band as Tool. They would be a suitable choice to compose a soundtrack for an Italian gothic horror film, but we’ll have to make do with something that might just be the closest substitute for such a venture with their fourth album, the instrumental Late Night Cinema (BabyGrande/Shogun). I particularly like their quirky use of vocalists that shift about in the background, as well as the evocative violins and high-pitched trumpets. If you’re not familiar with these guys, but you like your music provided to you by the likes of DJ Shadow, RJD2, Omega One, Guts, Wax Tailor, Bias, Aim and especially Cinematic Orchestra or anyone else who delves into sampled beats and filmic vibes then you’ll be more than impressed with this excursion from the San Francisco based Kingston & Young God. Glad they get to delve into some lengthy tunes, because the 7:32min long Ghosts & Men easily surpasses the last album from Josh Davis. Absolutely mesmerising stuff. They look like they should be out surfing the breaks instead of chopping them up. So far I’ve been enthralled by everything they touch and they seriously do seem to be getting better and better with each project. You’ll need some nice headphones to really appreciate the sonics. An amazing piece of work. 10/10.

A ‘retainer’ can be many things. Most commonly known as that wire contraption used in mouth braces, or a small sum of money that can be used as a deposit for legal services yet rendered. Or it can also be an MC from Melbourne. He’s just released the album Valley Of Black Daisies (Pang Productions) and you’d think he was an old-time cowboy from the oil painting that is depicted on the cover. The album was produced by Must, who is the colleague of a fella named Mata. Combined they released a decent Melbourne compilation album called Vic Spitters in 2004, but then in 2005 they opened up some more with their own collection Studio Therapy.  Then another year later they made quite an impressive improvement with Urban Monk’s Gunpowder Footsteps and keeping the one album a year format flowing, they also produced another newcomer called J.Waters and his album In The Impossible Quest For Encapsulation. Though it was really only an EP and they do this all under the guise of Pang Productions. So come 2008 and we get yet another unfamiliar name in Retainer. His style is pure underground Australian hip hop with a tangent towards the more lyrical abstract nature. There’s no boofhead lyrics or hard rock attitude, instead we get an MC who is more interested in getting deeper with his words. I wouldn’t say he’s the tightest MC to grace the mic, but what he lacks in a developed flow he makes up with content. Though it is the kind that needs rewinding to truly grasp the meaning. I’d say his audience would be other MCs and those who are obsessed with the more esoteric fringes of the genre. Throwing the listener off course is the track

Gem Stoned, which includes a verse each from lads A.D.D. and Bigs who are content with bragging about some nefarious deeds in a rather brash manner compared to Retainer’s more composed style. The beats are uncomplicated and sit comfortably with a very down-tempo direction. Choice cuts would be the ear-catching vocal sample used on Gummy Shark, the title track with DJ
Bogues. There are loads of vocal samples from old Western films as well as the last track The Deep End, which not only includes vocal duties from Mata & Must, but also contains some familiar dialogue from Michael Mann’s ultimate cops and robbers flick Heat. The Pang Production team are certainly grafting themselves a back catalogue. It’ll only be in due time that their name will eventually spread outside Victoria.
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