Describing Dälek is always pretty tough. Despite the fact that MC Dälek himself has stated that they should be considered purely hip-hop since the origins of the genre lie in experimentation and breaking down barriers, I would conjecture that whacking Gutter Tactics onto your stereo and playing it to your average chart-loving hip-hop aficionado would result in blank stares and possibly light brain damage.
A fusion of dark, rumbling beats and shoegaze/drone noise, Dälek have consistently pumped out record after record of nebulous material for quite a few years now. Gutter Tactics is neither a record by rote nor a reinvention, and manages to simply fuel the band onwards rather than feel like the necessary, vital albums they have recorded in the past.
It kicks off with the beautifully titled "Blessed are They Who Bash Your Children's Heads Against a Rock," a statement of intent laden with a sample from Rev. Jeremiah Wright. Unfortunately the record seems to kick into autopilot from then until we hit the fourth track, "Who Medgar Evers Was", which is a screaming wind-down of gritty beats that kicks in with a fairly standard hook then grinds slowly to a halt over the course of a few minutes, each passing second kicking you harder in the chest.
The midsection carries with it more melody behind the driving feedback and wails of the shoegaze-tinged noise, a strength that is sometimes underplayed in Dälek's repertoire. The likes of "Street Diction" and "A Collection of Miserable Thoughts Laced With Wit" manage to both bully you with percussion and soothe you with texture. This is liminal music of the most definitive kind, and if it comes across as challenging I'm sure that is the intent. MC Dälek's lyrics are, as always, a confrontational blend of politics, positive incitement, and deconstructive poetry. Delivery and passion are second-to-none, as any fan has come to expect.
The phrase "as always" resonates somewhat with this album, because as I suggested earlier there is no new path being beaten. Since Dälek manage to be a genre almost to themselves this is less of a problem than it would be with most musicians, but you can't help feel that a leap forward akin to Absence or Abandoned Language would have been preferable. However, by the time album closer "Atypical Stereotype" has you hypnotically revolving to the circular rhythms and creaking backing all you will care about is another damn solid record.
Techno Animal, cLOUDDEAD
7.8 / 10
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