August 06, 2006

Alias and Tarsier: Brookland/Oaklyn: Review

Alias & Tarsier
Brookland /Oaklyn
[Anticon – May 2006]
*Sixeyes Score: 8.8 out of 10

Buy it at Insound!

Review by Thomas David

Anticon is known for its esoteric look at hip hop. Alias & Tarsier make "trip hop" (a la Massive Attack/Portishead/Baxter). Thankfully Anticon's trip hop excursion (I always preferred the term Soul-Hop but that never stuck even though I think it's more fitting... anyways...) does not fall too left of center. Without reiterating their entire bio (which is readily available on their myspace page) the theme of Alias & Tarsier is a musical dichotomy. They are one male and one female from opposite ends of the country, with completely different upbringings and influences, uniting to form one sublimely kindred musical spirit. Alias' (birth name Brendon Whitney) beats are jittery white caps breaking over moody current-like basslines. Rona Rapadas', or Tarsier's, vocals fall closer to the girl from Baxter; ethereal and majestic like the winds stirring above this metaphoric lake. She never overwhelms, allowing only effect manipulations to take her voice to any extremes. Tarsier also plays some piano and bass organ throughout... further adding her smooth but melancholic stamp to Alias' tempestuous beats. The album opens with the "Cub". "I would sooner believe this star/not nearly three feet tall"; the song's light tone and simple piano line is fitting for this pensive tune pining over the "child's innocence" concept. Alias and fellow Anticonion, Doseone, add the only vocal change ups. The first of these tunes, "Last Nail", builds around a forlorn piano melody only to be upended surprisingly by Alias' rapid-fire rapping; then returning to its gloomy beginning but teasing with a fake end. I think the song is about that "last nail" that symbolizes the end of a relationship... but does it. The song feels all to close to the back and forth toss one's heart and mind go through at the end of a relationship. Near the end of the album we get "Luck And Fear". Doseone is an extremely odd but gifted mind. His nasally Twista-fast-challenging speedy raps are difficult for many to take in large doses (seriously, no pun intended), but on this, the most tumultuous song on the album, its chaotic abstract nature fits perfectly. The first "single" from the album was "Mr. C." The dreary-ness of the tune is not strong enough for an emotional impact, so it comes across ultimately as little more than a shoe-gazer hip hop song. It's one of the few low points of the record. Almost never overwrought, or forced, this moody album is a catharsis of manic-depressive tension. Forget Valium or what-have-you; pop this CD in and cry your problems out to its beautiful sadness. Brookland/Oaklyn is like attending a funeral and wedding... in the same church... at the same time.

+ last nail [mp3]

1 comment:

  1. Anonymous2:50:00 PM

    thanks for this great band! muchly enjoy them! in the same vein, you should check out neverending white lights. that's what i thought of when i first heard of it.