Thursday, July 26, 2007

Reviews:: Grand Analog - Calligraffitti

Ok, quickly think of the #1 Canadian city that comes to mind when I say the phrase "experimental hip hop". Now take the number of letters in that city's name and multiply it by 57. Now take the resulting number, add 344, and then divide it by 2. Now add 128 to that number and then divide the result by 66. Let me guess, you are left with 8, and what is Canada's 8th most populous city? Winnipeg, which was the city you were thinking of originally, was it not? Well if it wasn't, you are incorrect. This is because Grand Analog is from the city lovingly called Winterpeg.

More accurately, Odario Williams, MC and member of Mood Ruff, is from Winnipeg. He is also the frontman for Grand Analog, a collective that also features Ofield Williams, Darcy Wu Ataman, Damon Mitchell, Arun Chaturvedi, and DJ Catalist. So although he split his time between Winnipeg and Toronto during the making of Grand Analog's debut album, Calligraffitti, his experiences growin' up in the 'Peg helped form the vision that resulted in this album.

And what kind of music does Grand Analog make on Calligraffitti? Here is how the band's bio describes their sound: "The music is a beautiful mess of rap'n'roll dub and soul; a hip hop slop shop of times good and bad." Wow, now there is a description. What does that actually mean you ask? Well their sound is fundamentally hip hop, led by Odario's MCing, but it's a dense, layered sound that combines traditional hip hop beats with a number of other influences. Was that description any clearer? Perhaps not, so let's discuss some songs from the album and see if that helps clear things up.

A funky guitar lick opens up the funky Touch Your Toes, which finds Odario exhorting the masses to get down the Grand Analog way. It also closes with a trumpet solo, which is worthy of some props. The power of one anthem I'll Walk Alone is the first single from the album, and might actually describe the process which found Odario go for self and strike out on his own with Grand Analog. The song is propelled along by a dub-style mix of drums and horns, with some reggae vibes mixed in, and some catchy sing-song vocals. The reggae vibes are cranked up to full for the slow burners, Around This Town and Weekend Love, which are faithful homages to a sound Odario clearly loves.

The fuzzed-out blues guitar that opens Get Live And Go leads into big drum beats and a narrative about the struggles faced by Caribbean immigrants over here in Babylon. Sittin' On Sunday is a floaty, mellow track that features some catchy female vocals on the hook and is about the pain of a lost relationship, or possibly, the pain caused by Odario's realization that he doesn't love hip hop the way he used to. Or perhaps it's about both of those things. Either way, it is perfect listening for a lazy sunday, perhaps when you are sitting. Social Butterfly sounds like Strobelite Honey mixed with Parliment and/or Funkadelic. Nothing more needs to be said after that I'd wager. Mix Tapes: The Slow Ride is kind of hypnotizing with it's jazzy guitar and some dubby echo effects on the drums. It also includes a lyrical hommage to Main Source, which is always worth bonus points.

Guess what time it is now kids. That's right, it's lazy music review comparison time. After all, what's a music review if you can't sum up the sound of the new artist you're reviewing by comparing them to someone everyone already knows (or, if you're real hipsteriffic, someone almost no one knows)? However, the parallels between Grand Analog (specifically Odario), and my friend K-Os are too obvious not to discuss. They are both of West Indian descent, grew up in Canadian towns that aren't really known for their hip hop scenes, and were exposed to all kinds of different music in their formative years. They now both make music rooted in hip hop, but also has elements of reggae, rock, and soul. The music they make also shares another trait, which is the reason for this comparison in the first place - nothing they do sounds forced. Despite the fact that they both weave hip hop in amongst all these different sounds, it always manages to sound organic. This, my friends, is a good thing.

In fact this album is a good thing, but don't take my word for it, check out Grand Analog for yourself. If you're at all into K-Os or even just looking for a hip hop fix with a different flavour, Calligraffitti is worth your time.

mp3:: Grand Analog - Touch Your Toes

mp3:: Grand Analog - I'll Walk Alone

myspace :: label :: buy it

video:: I'll Walk Alone

Posted at 1:00 PM by naedoo :: 0 comments

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