Scorpion Circles

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Santa Cruz MCs Genelic and Memphis Reigns come off as smooth, and admirably assured, on their full-length debut, Scorpion Circles. The duo passes the mic back and forth seamlessly, trading fast-paced flows with an infectious exuberance. While pointedly verbose, the lyrics manage to avoid, for the most part, needless grandiloquence. The subject matter tends toward the abstract, which is where these talented MCs occasionally get off track. While the contemplative nature of the vocals is refreshing -- musing about transformation, (psychic) movement, and the power of language -- there are moments when it all gets a bit too meandering and vague. The competent, varied production here helps to minimize that, and mixes things up nicely. Complementary but never obtrusive, the low end ranges from soft, sleepy drums to greasy beats and rumbling basslines. Relying heavily on moody symphonics -- snatches of drifting horns, melancholy guitars , baroque horns, stark Chinese harps -- the music both drives and matches the deeply reflective, yearning quality of the vocals: bolstering the imagistic, strongly poetic moments that stand out the most here.

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