Hella beats and a Slayer chaser
It begins like this: Given that Zach Hill looks like an action figure, it’s truly mystifying how he remains inconspicuous in everyday Sacramento life. But put a pair of drumsticks in his hands and a bestial Jekyll form overtakes the cherubic anonymity.
During a rare local set on Monday at Luigi’s Fun Garden, drummer Hill was full of action-film energy; the Superman-type endured an impressive series of physically demanding beats, impossibly intricate yet equally precise. He occasionally looked possessed, as if compelled to maintain the rhythm of an otherworldly electricity channeling through him. The music transformed the Fun Garden into a Tralfamadorian zoo, where Hill—top specimen of earthly musical talent—was hostage as an extraterrestrial virtuoso. Once or twice he smiled from the cage of his genius, but in a humorless trance—the faraway, demented expression of someone lost in a desert.
And then, as though it’d never happened, Hill disappeared and was replaced by What’s Up?, in a kickoff to their West Coast tour. Even Beethoven, plagued by tinnitus, would’ve fully enjoyed the massive vibrations of What’s Up?’s set. Their music is optimistic without being at all naive—mysterious yet comic, like a jalopy hurtling through the Milky Way.
Alas, What’s Up? has moved to Portland and left Sacramento an Oliver Twist of an orphan, begging for more. Please, sirs! (Alexa Shapiro)
Don’t be lazy: When I got back from lunch (turkey and pepper jack, you nosy bastard) there was a CD on my chair by a hip-hop artist from Elk Grove named Mortisabstract. At first, I was a little put off by the busy wordplay, industrial synth and jarring drum patterns; the music isn’t readily accessible. But that’s not a bad thing—the composition spoke to me: “Don’t give up so easily, you lazy asshole,” it said. It was right.
And with each listen, I heard something new, like on “After Clap,” which utilizes an expertly produced beat with eerie effects. Mortisabstract’s flow sounds like early Anticon: inward, heavy with wordplay and metaphor. The muted blues riff paired with Mortis’ abstract rhymes on “Warning Shot” is undeniably masterful.
As it turns out, Level With Me is full of poetry, a really good female emcee by the name of Glory I and some of the most interesting production I’ve heard in a while. It’s intellectually challenging hip-hop you have to learn to appreciate; it grows on you, like religion. Which reminds me: The downside is the creepy-ass Christian lyrics (e.g., “First veer humble then you’ll become truly wise”). Hint: Listen to Slayer’s South of Heaven directly after listening to Mortisabstract’s Level With Me. It balances things out nicely. Check him out at www.myspace.com/abstractmortis. (Josh Fernandez)
Baby got Barack: Last Friday night, the Delta of Venus in Davis hosted a hip-hop benefit for Barack Obama, which featured the CUF, Righteous Movement and Sonic Bloom (from San Francisco). I always get hyped when a hip-hop show comes through DOV, since the crowd that place attracts leans toward judgmental fixie-ridin’ bloggers who scoff when I ride up on my Huffy.
And while a large percentage of the crowd probably wasn’t actually of voting age, the three groups managed to fill the coffeehouse with people down for the cause. And though the focus was on Obama, MC Crush spoke of change I can believe in: “Tonight’s just about fun and having a good time.” I’m game. (Derek Nielsen)