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Posted on May 8th, 2014 (1:47 pm) by Michael Mangarella

Along with liquor, drugs, and hyper-inflated egos, nothing will sap the artistic vision of a musician quite like the weight of fine print in a major label contract. It’s right there, on page forty-three, paragraph eight, enclosed in parentheses, highlighted by a semi-colon: Nurturing talent is for yo-yo’s. So with the stroke of a pen, before the ink gets a chance to dry, all preconceived idealistic notions of artistic creativity are turned into watered down versions of what could have been, in order to please the anything-for-a-buck sensibility that has kept this scribe’s radio turned off for the better part of a decade. Finding anything of creative substance can be a challenge no matter the musical genre. Labels such as the great Merge, as well as the quirky, yet always interesting Burger Records, are just two that come to mind when one wants to break from the same old schlock. You just have to dig into that bucket of shit believing there’s a pony down there somewhere.

Los Angeles based, Anticon Records has taken a different road. Started in 1998 by a collection of hip-hop artists in an attempt to take the genre to more avant levels, the label has grown to include pop oriented, electronic and jazz inflected acts with an emphasis on the individual creative process of their artists. One of those is Brendon Whitney, DBA Alias, one of the founders of Anticon who currently resides in his home state of Maine. Through seven albums under the Alias moniker, his sounds have run the gamut from the rap heavy elements of 2002's, The Other Side of the Looking Glass, the electro/hip-hop of 2008's Resurgam, to his last LP, the largely instrumental head trip, Fever Dream. With the LP, Pitch Black Prism, set for release May 24, 2014, Alias has greased the rope with the four-song EP Indiiggo, an amalgam of hip-hop, electro-soul and a tinge of Latin strains.

Opening with the title track (and one from the upcoming album), “Indiiggo,” the dreamscape vocals of Therese Workman are fittingly placed within the framework of a soulful wave of synthesized haze propelled by an insistent scat-like percussion. The urban blur of hip-hop gets the electronic treatment on, “Whatchagonnado.” Percussive beats punctuate a soft synth-rhythm lending a tough yet supple East coast groove. “Now Listenn,” dubs its way through its electro beginnings settling into a Latin percussion beat similar to Bachata, while the closer, “Rehsu Gans,” spins the wheel, hitting on sounds reflecting off a prism of hip-hop, electro, and rock steady stylings.

Alias/Brendon Whitney, has had better days. Yet, even when he’s off just a tad, his originality is enough to pale in comparison the cookie-cutter poseurs populating the currently overcrowded electronic/hip-hop universe. On Indiiggo, as he has through six LPs and one other EP, Whitney has brought his lunch pail and put in a workingman’s effort, the result of which owes as much to his talent as it does his label’s ability to keep it all so creatively real.

Track List:

  1. Indiiggo ft. Therese Workman
  2. Whatchawannado
  3. Now Listenn
  4. Rehsu Gans
Alias, Indiiggo, Anticon Records, Brendon Whitley
Purchase at: Amazon | eMusic

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