Friday, June 06, 2008
Subtle--Exiting Arm (2008)
Release Date-May 19, 2008
Genre/Style-Alternative Rap/Experimental Rock
Review-Always cryptic, always intense, avant-hip-hop band Subtle once again present a complicated picture of society on Exiting Arm. Doseone's high, nasally voice acts as the guide through the band's twisted landscape, leading his audiences into convoluted passages and bridges from which only he can get them out. There's so much happening lyrically, and what is being said is so dense, that it's hard to pick much out, but the occasional phrase — "do you relax to which your death is a fact," "and you wait in your window, for found to come find you," "the last of mankind will have no instruction," "someone's hard-to-find bird head collection," "what sort of armor can the average man arrange inside of him?" — does poke through from time to time, making itself known. It is perhaps this lack of complete understanding of the surroundings, of what's happening, that adds to the haze that consistently coats Subtle's music, that helps to push the confusion and dark uncertainty that they're working so hard to create. To their credit, they do realize that completely immersing their listeners in obscure, convoluted imagery will be too tiring, too much — to the point of rendering their message(s) useless, in fact — and so their music, while certainly not following mainstream pop conventions, doesn't drift too far into the experimental. Beat is key here, and the percussion, courtesy of Jel, moves from heavy electronic "Take to The" to the quiet rolling of "Hollow Hollered" to the nicely syncopated closer, "Providence," allowing voices to swell and layer, strings and keys and bass to come and go when they please. The problem is, because the songs are so dense, and the lyrics nearly unintelligible, it becomes difficult to differentiate Exiting Arm from the band's other work, and because of that, makes the album a bit of a disappointment.