Pitch Black Prism

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After a bright trip of an album called Fever Dream, Pitch Black Prism makes for two aptly titled releases in a row for underground hip-hop producer Alias, as this cavernous, slate-grey album supposedly inspired by Scotland is an exploration of darkness in its many shades. From the foggy skies of "Pistachio Payoff" (his album titles are more representative than his song titles) to the pre-dawn zombie walk of "Vallejo's Sapphire Views" and on to the deep space darkness of the malfunctioning robot of a title track, this one avoids the light like a vampire. Still, it's not all dour as some cuts come with a sense of mystery, or in the case of thuddy bass monster dubbed "Gold Clouddead Skiez," it's bang your head at the avant, all-night after party and here's hoping the sun never comes up. "Indiiggo" is a skittish number that suggests Aphex Twin-gone-goth and given guest vocalist Therese Workman the instructions "evoke both Dead Can Dance and Florence & the Machine," but the other high-profile collabo, "Crimson Across It," is dominated by Doseone, who sneers at small-time rappers ("It's like watchin' a bunch of clerks fight, over a better title") and offers both a highlight and a speed bump. All the other tracks are much more atmospheric and adjustable to whatever dark surroundings are outside the listener's headphones, but Doseone's insider lyrics are also one of the rare times the album feels as if the music here was spawned from hip-hop, as the beatless and soundtrack-y bits push the album, and the artist, toward the "eclectronica" bin. Wherever this one fits genre-wise, Alias has figured out how to employ the drift, the sway, and the compressed boom of his early work into other styles of music. With his study of moods running parallel, the results keep getting better.

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