Review: Busdriver ‘Beaus$Eros’ (plus: listen to ‘Bon Bon Fire’)
One of the main complaints from those music listeners not entrenched within the hip-hop world is that there seems to be a lack of evolution with the form. With Outkast more or less absent, there’s stagnation at top with only Kanye West and (according to some) Lil’ Wayne truly experimenting, but there was said to be a bevy of underground artists creating aesthetic inertia, functioning as hip-hop’s Darwinian agents. Then, of course, Odd Future hit the scene, accreted incredible and, I daresay, undue hype and in the process proved they were quite clearly not these agents. Energy, a fuck-all attitude and an average sense of pranksterism does not make one an outstanding artist.
Kanye might like to think, for marketing purposes, that he alone amongst hip-hop artists has his pulse on the musical undercurrent, but it’s about time that Busdriver (Regan John Farquhar) must be officially entered into the conversation, not merely because he can feel the pulse but because he seems to be creating a pulse within the otherwise withering carcass of hip-hop.
Busdriver, an MC bridging the gap between experimental independent music and hip-hop, is about to drop his latest full-length album “Beaus$Eros,” which is being branded as “post-hip-hop” and his most avante-garde work over the course of seven albums.
Upon listening to the LP, one gets the sense that Busdriver is correct in what he’s selling—it’s rather unlike anything one is likely to hear right now, combining elements of Warp artists such as Flying Lotus, Aphex Twin and Grizzly Bear and fusing them into something that is completely his own.
On “You Ain’t OG,” Busdriver seems to at once channel Kraftwerk and Peter Gabriel, which is a god-damned pleasant surprise, with the electronic rhythms of the former and the vocals of the latter, which might not have worked in the hands of a lesser artist. “Picking Band Names” is an early frontrunner for one of the best tracks of 2012 with it’s drowsy electronics, hiccuping beat, and synthesizers flying all about the field of sound. The melody is lush, hypnotic and undoubtedly beautiful. The album is full of Belgian production team Loden’s impressive work, but on this track everything crystallizes into a moment of perfection, and one can sense that there is a future, an evolution at work within rap. Again, a pulse.
Things get rather transgressive when Busdriver drops the beat and lyrics of “Ass to Mouth,” a single that was released in April 2011 that contains grinding bass synths and atmospherics reminiscent of Boards of Canada. “Electric Blue” features Sierra Cassidy of CocoRosie, Mike Ladd and Joëlle Phuong Minh Lê, and again occupies some of the psychedelic ground mapped by Flying Lotus and BoC, though it is infused with Reggae instrumentation and a Dub downbeat, which is quite a deft stroke.
The current single is “Bon Bon Fire,” and while it begins with echoes of Outkast’s frenetic, neo-IDM sonic excursions, it also functions as a mirror—if only superficially—to Basement Jaxx, before it pivots in its last minute to a boy-girl duet that is intensely beautiful and epic atop a thick, glitch-ridden beat.
All of this says nothing, however, of Busdriver as a lyricist and MC. Don’t worry, there’s a lot of linguistic playfulness to entertain even the most cynical listeners—talk of absinthe, Moby-Dick, politics, the bronze age, swan-diving into drinking glasses, strap-on studs, Toni Morrison, economics, a Winston Churchill figurine, “impaled vaginas,” leaking caskets, OG’s, and the like. And Busdriver has the talent to both rap and sing, unlike Kanye. When rapping he has an almost geometric and asymmetrical style, but when singing he can sound at times like Grizzly Bear’s Ed Droste, the aforementioned Peter Gabriel, and, occasionally, Gary Numan.
“Beaus$Eros” will drop February 14th onFake Four Inc, so keep your ears to the ground and be sure to grab this one up with the greatest velocity.