Aesop Rock opens his tenth album with a parody of Silicon Valley corporatespeak. “ITS is a system of business purposes designed to curate a desired multi-experience,” he says over a pastiche of ’80s synthpop. “Utilizing a singular hybrid of machine studying and on-site scrum periods, our specialists have redefined tech-centric problem-solving. Disrupt. Innovate. Refine.” The technobabble pokes enjoyable at each TED talkers and Aesop Rock’s popularity for verbosity. A Def Jux alum and Rhymesayers signee, he is aware of the style of phrase salad. He additionally is aware of none might be served on Built-in Tech Options, a smorgasbord of tales, photographs, and textures. The document builds on Aesop Rock’s decade-plus of rehabbing his type, which has shifted from gnarled abstraction to bug-eyed omniology.
Aesop Rock nonetheless raps in lurching torrents of interlocking syllables and layered rhymes, however his supply has grown extra rhythmic and laid again, extra conversational than combative. His manufacturing has come a good distance, too; what was as soon as practical scaffolding has develop into a pillar of his music. He’s now extra fascinated with rap as expression than athletic feat, a flip that has made his songs extra deliberate and looking. With this refined ability set and imaginative and prescient, he’s made topics as trivial as skateboarding at night time and as fantastical as a superpowered bullfrog really feel engrossing and private. That informal fluency drives Built-in Tech Options, an album loosely about life beneath technocracy. In a world the place artists have been diminished to manufacturers and information factors, Aesop Rock asserts his multiplicity.
The document boasts a few of his most totally realized songs. “Residing Curfew,” a tune in regards to the magic of golden hour in a metropolis, darts from a stoop to a Flatbush Avenue bodega to the bloodwork from Aes’ newest physician go to, every element rendered in 4K but propelling the verse ahead. The pictures accumulate like a Katamari ball, swelling into “Whirlwind nation/A world flushed from the comb pen of Kim Jung Gi/Swirling, junkyard tires and loveseats and home pets/All swept up into one beast.” The trip-hop beat’s crawling bassline and looped moans heighten the flood of particulars; the tune looks like wading right into a mural. And that’s earlier than billy woods sweeps in with an equally omniscient verse about witching hour, that different magical time of day.
Single “By the River” is simply as beautiful. Rapping over a loop of sentimental percussion and a jazzy horn, Aes confesses his love of rivers. East, Hudson, Amazon, Willamette, Susquehanna—he admires all of them, communing with a beaver and the ghost of his departed pal Camu Tao in a winding verse that’s damaged up by the easy declaration, “I like rivers, I like rivers.” It’s the uncommon idea tune that’s as revelatory as it’s intricate.
Aes does a number of storytelling on this album, extolling the great thing about pigeons on “Pigeonemetry,” memorializing his late grandma on “Vititus,” and narrating a weird residence invasion on “Aggressive Steven.” The latter will get unwieldy because the story drags on, however Aes’ rhythmic virtuosity shines on this narrative mode. He’ll usually insert an exclamation or apart to imbue a line with colour, or to transition into a distinct circulate or rhyme scheme. “Mr. T is fucking actual?” he spit-takes on “100 Toes Tall,” channeling the astonishment he felt when his household bumped into the superstar within the ’80s. On the Watchmen-referencing “Salt and Pepper Squid,” a monologue about mentoring youthful skaters sidles right into a dialog: “I like to assist the youthful rippers clip up/Slightly hype to reignite the nimbus after they hiccup/How’s your weekend?/Is it home on a seaside with a view, and tea for 2?” Elite approach is clearly second nature for him at this level, however he’s always in the hunt for methods to rap his ass off with out showboating.
The manufacturing is simply as completed and purposeful. Outsourcing only one beat, he goes full mixmaster. On “Infinity Fill Goose Down,” chopped and scratched vocals, squiggles of funk guitar, and an arcade cupboard’s value of synths fade out and in over nimble percussion. Pigeon coos undergird the ornithological paeans of “Pigeonometry;” porch-stomp drums thunder over reverbed electrical guitar on “Bermuda”; a burping bassline loops over a crisp breakbeat on “All Metropolis Nerve Map.” He’s lengthy been an omnivorous producer, however he’s not too long ago discovered to emphasise rhythm as a lot texture. (This is applicable to his verses too: His odes to junk meals on “Time Strikes In another way Right here” straddle the bass notes like a lover, his slowed circulate drawing out the pleasure of each delicacy.)
As on Spirit World Subject Information and The Inconceivable Child, a worry of mortality lurks beneath the levity and surprise. Along with his typical jokes about being a hermit and dwelling fossil (“Aes from earlier than the primary Star Wars/I survived Motion Park, I survived garden darts),” he additionally ponders the legacy of his artwork. In an interlude, he considers the arc of Vincent van Gogh, who was thought-about a failure in his lifetime. Van Gogh is the patron saint of flop eras; folks evoke the Dutch painter after they want validation throughout perceived downturns. However for Aes the prolific post-Impressionist is fascinating as a result of he was productive, interval. Even when his artwork hadn’t survived, he nonetheless made it, a devotion that conjures up Aes. Built-in Tech Options illustrates how that dedication continues to deepen whilst Aesop Rock eyes the clock. “O dying, o dying, may ya please maintain a second?/I’m so in impact,” he raps on nearer “Black Snow.” He’s received extra to say.
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