Brendon Whitney, founder of indie and weirdo hip-hop label Anticon, has a prolific production career as Alias, proffering a kind of old-school-indebted, lush hip-hop independent from chunky L.A. beat styles. His debut album The Other Side of the Looking Glass was full of old-school leaning hip-hop spelled out in dusty sampled breaks, but by the time we got to his fourth and latest solo album, 2008's Resurgam, rich synth sounds and gorgeous melodies had begun to subsume the percussive frameworks. His fifth album Fever Dream further displays a more cosmopolitan, otherworldly sound—one that's less orthodox and freer to meander.
Tightly constructed, with not a moment wasted or a single throwaway track, Dream has none of the tangential or slapdash qualities of modern instrumental hip-hop. Alias fashions tunes out of broken synths, sawn-off bits of organ and God knows what being banged together. Whitney's stitched-together quiltwork feels detailed and elaborate and never, well, stitched-together. "Feverdreamin" is like a cross between Forest Swords and Madonna's Ray of Light, and most other tracks find a similar unexpected synthesis through the fusing of disparate elements.
While the break-driven sound is mostly gone, it's not as if these are beatless tracks: rather, songs like "Goinswimmin" or "Revl Is Divad" are powered by complex, top-heavy loops, not unlike the recent work of Eskmo. They're also constantly shifting and evolving, changing from choppy to fluid and back at the drop of a pin ("Lady Lambin," "Boom Boom Boom"). Instead of relying on guest vocalists as on past records, Dream is nearly completely instrumental save for its library of samples (and a meek vocal turn on "Talk in Technicolor,"), whether it be a full-throated singer on the heatstroke heart-wringer "Wanna Let It Go" or choked onomatopoeia on "Sugarpeeee." It's an album that often feels beautifully warm-blooded yet still strangely automated. Aptly-titled, Fever Dream's gentle and imaginative hip-hop beats waft by leisurely, attractive on the surface but substantive and personal on the inside.
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Tracklist: Alias - Fever Dream 01. Goinswimmin
02. Wanna Let It Go
03. Revi Is Divad
04. No Choice
06. Lady Lambin
07. Talk in Technicolor
09. Boom Boom Boom
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