Inci90 – “Crimes Against Music” C60 (Remix Mixtape)

Inci90 makes no bones about it: his musical endeavours are not for everyone. Specifically, and by his own admission, they’re “for stoned people” and plenty of people who are stoned are still quite happily flogging Floyd / Peter Tosh / Dr. Dre / Grateful Dead so we’re talking about some serious niche-ass demographic here. The Inci90 project’s openness about its own rarefied appeal (the tape is called ‘Crimes Against Music’ fer chrissakes) actually renders it refreshingly unpretentious; though that doesn’t make the content any less fried and far out.

Inci90 takes cues from garbled conspiracy theories, new age ramble, theoretical jargon, industralial/psych weirdness, musique concréte and, notably, Houston legend DJ Screw, but reference points are pretty futile with this one. I started with Side B, entitled “i dno wtf im doen” (Inci told me to; “it’s better.”) It fires up with what sounds like an African tape sample, clucking along with hissy drum machine, artificial marimba, choral refrains and paper-thin synth. Here and there radio static and white noise blares through the groove, as if a wayward signal has interrupted the transmission to the flying saucer’s ganja den, startling you momentarily from your foggy reverie. Maybe-accidental spoken word overdubs segue into slacker guitar, scrambled midi gamelan and computer-voice recitations of social / art theory. Steel drum clangs, video game headaches, more blurts of white noise wretchings.

Flipping over to side A (“O GUD”) we’re met with more African group vocals, soon joined by jews harp and pitch-shifted groanings – slowly but surely making way for swamp-crunk, destroyed dub and scummy obscuro-pop warped within an inch of its life. I’m reminded of Sun Araw’s crate-pilfering ‘Aristrocrat P. Child’ venture though this is a good few lightyears further down the k-hole. Local like-minders would have to include tape pervert Javier Frisco/Royal Vomit (Inci’s housemate, as it happens) and dark electronica freak Strunkdts. Like the latter, Inci90 offers arcane snapshots of the incomprehensibly vast smorgasboard/sesspit of pop culture, politics, art, religion, etc, uniting them in sound-packages that mirror the essential messiness of the internet, the world and the 21st century brain. This stuff is laced with Y-Gen cynicism, dark humour and implied despair, but it also delights in grooves, subcultural wonderment and sheer weirdness of sound. Expect anything and everything and leave your inhibitions at the door.

FG – “Making Space” LP (The Community / Human Writes Records)

I couldn’t resist writing up FG’s new album alongside Inci90’s. They are both DIY efforts informed by the annals of hip-hop and sample-based music, though in many ways it’s hard to imagine two more different records.

FG is a Perth emcee/producer, though he was born and raised in South-East Melbourne. The erudite, fierce-bearded wordsmith has worked with plenty of folk who have become household names for Oz hip-hop heads: Hilltop Hoods, Funkoars, Muphin, Terra Firma. You might find him, of an evening, teaming up with fellow ex-Melbournite Nick Sweepah / Ourobonic Plague. He’s also appeared on the crucial Culture of Kings compilations (both volumes 1 and 2) – though as far as I can tell, this is his first solo release apart from a no-longer available cassette called “Funky Living Room.” So “Making Space” is a major milestone for FG, and listening to it, one gets the sense that he poured a whole heap of time, thought, emotion and sleepless nights into the thing.

It’s an album of dense introspective verses, funk/soul-derived breaks, old-school rhythms and pepperings of guest appearances. While not a concept album by any measure, the whole thing reaches a conspicuous cohesion in its observational, conversational, sometimes stream-of-consciousness type lyricism: this isn’t an effort to reinvent the stylistic wheel or make grand statements, but rather to observe, experience, process and contemplate daily existence. It’s a record that could never have been made in a vacuum, instead feeling like a direct imprint of a life being lived. As a hip-hop LP, the tropes will feel familiar: 1950s spoken word samples, self-referential metaphors, intro/outro/interlude tracks punctuating likely ‘singles’ and tunes of varying seriousness. But despite favouring a ‘classic’ vibe, FG carefully avoids cliché, mostly by way of a savvy sensibility, great production and an above-average lexicon. Standout moments include the smooth title track, the WAM-award-winning, tongue-in-cheek, faux-therapy session of “Ego-Dystonic Blues,” stellar jazz instrumental ‘Autumn,’ and the no-nonsense, hard-hitting love song that is “Worldstop.” This probably isn’t an album that’s going to convert skeptics of Australian rap, but why should it? It excels in its own right, revels in its own distinctive aesthetic. More importantly, it’s substance over style – which means it warrants a second listen, a third and most probably a bunch more too.