Review : 13 & God - Own Your Ghost
PitchforkThe unclassifiable band 13 & God was formed because of the mutual admiration between Themselves and the Notwist, and later came to include Anticon artists like Dax Pierson (Subtle) and Jordan Dalrymple (Antonionian). It's not hard to imagine what the American post-rap duo and the German electro-pop band saw in each other. Themselves created music of engrossing complexity, but had little aptitude for lucidity and directness. Meanwhile, the Notwist excelled at piercingly simple songs, but seemed to struggle with too many moving parts. Musically, all the two groups had in common were glitches, though Themselves' disturbances were strident while the Notwist's were silky and mild, and maybe that was the point. In combining their strengths, would they also compensate for each other's weaker areas?
On 13 & God's 2005 debut, the answer was yes and no. It included some terrific songs, but most of them just sounded like the Notwist, or the Notwist with someone muttering to himself very rapidly in the background. The record didn't feel quite digested, and perhaps it just couldn't have-- the clean gauze of Markus Acher's voice and Adam "Doseone" Drucker's Micro Machines Man patter are virtually nuts and gum. That's still the case on the long-awaited second album, Own Your Ghost, where we're zipped back and forth between their contrasting sounds so hectically that it causes musical jet lag. It's still a neat project with many moments of interest, but it's disappointing that the second album doesn't cohere overall any better than the first. More than anything, it makes you wish for a new Notwist album.
Because wow, there are some good Notwist songs here. The album starts on a high note with "Its Own Sun", one of those instantly gettable acoustic numbers that Acher does so well, which floats along amid softly coursing glitches and coos. It crashes into the hyperactively skittering "Death Major", whose fast-rap magic tricks seem to have scurried in from an entirely different album. And then, suddenly, we're listening to another lovely Notwist song, "Armored Scarves", where Acher sinks one of his trademarked cryptic-but-loaded refrains into a flatteringly warm and purring environment-- at least until Dose's helium-voiced sing-song takes over in the second half, blasting drum fills in tow. The dividedness of the record is especially plain here. Acher generally gets calm and luscious music, and then all hell breaks loose whenever Dose shows up....full text
Prefixmag13 And God is a collaborative project from glitchy German indie-electro band the Notwist and California rap collectives Themselves and Subtle. If this sounds like a bit of a chance collaboration to you, you'd be right: The project was initially conceived in 2004 during a Notwist/Themselves joint tour when the two groups were stranded together on broken-down tour bus. Own Your Ghost is 13 And God's second studio full-length, and their first in six years. It was preceded by group's self-titled, 2005 debut, which was a genre-hopping, darkly atmospheric affair. Own Your Ghost was recorded in both Oakland and Notwist's studio in Weilheim, Germany.
SpinRebooted after a six-year hiatus, this unlikely joint venture between low-key Oakland rap collective Themselves and genteel German pop group the Notwist seems more like a high-concept mash-up than a true collaboration. Sometimes, however, it works beautifully -- note the dreamy "Janu are" (sic), a meditation on passing time, or the sleepy "Death Minor," which observes, "There is no fashion to passing decay." While that obsession with the "big sleep" gives Own Your Ghost a gloomy power, these cross-cultural pals might consider a less depressing repertoire next time....full text
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