With their debut album Negro, Necro, Nekros, Dälek let the boundaries bleed with a mixture of hip-hop, rock, noise, and other genres. Lest you think that means they're pulling another rap-metal blend like so many top-40 mooks touring mosh-pit festivals and appealing to frat-daddies everywhere, that release was more like hip-hop mixed with My Bloody Valentine. At times it was brutal, while at others it was downright atmospheric and pretty. Four years of touring and work later, the group is dropping their second heady mix with From Filthy Tongues Of Gods And Griots.
It was during those aforementioned four years that the group not only toured, but picked up another member in Still (beind the decks), but collaborated with everyone from Kid 606 to Techno Animal and even the old-school Faust. The wide variety of different artists that the group has shared a stage with (everyone from De La Soul to DJ Spooky, and Rye Coalition, among others) also gives sort of a clue to the wide appeal of their sound, blurring the boundaries about what's expected from hip-hop.
Given all of the above, the album starts out in a way that may not be surprising. "Spiritual Healing" rumbles along with a serious low-end while squalls of white noise guitar glaze over the top as Dälek and Oktopus add one-two punch vocals. "Speak Volumes" starts out with some submerged guitar feedback, and just about the time you think it's going to get roaring again, a thick beat drops and the guitars shimmer and hover in a way that would make shoegazer fans buckle in the knees. It comes in as one of the best tracks on the disc, feeling more atmospheric than anything on the recent DJ Shadow album while the duo again spits out their rather fierce vocals.
"...From Mole Hills" throws some clanging pots-n-pans percussion over another lumbering beat and layers of white noise, and the track takes on an even more aggressive feel with building layers of guitar feedback and noise. Musically, it's very similar to the dark and simmering tracks that Techno Animal have been grinding out for some time now. After a couple shorter tracks, the group drops "Black Smoke Rises," a meandering 12-minute track that sags a bit. Devoid of a beat, the experimental noise track grates along with jerky guitar feedback and odd noise samples while the ocassional vocals drift in and out. It's interesting for awhile, but simply goes on for far too long, breaking the flow of the disc about halfway through.
The group is great at confounding expectations, and they do just that, sounding more like Merzbow than hip-hop on the track, but get back into the swing of things nicely on "Trampled Brethren," adding a touch of middle-eastern percussion to the thick beat. "Forever Close My Eyes" takes on one of the first mellow vibes of the entire album, mixing a bit of woozy vibe in with a lighter beat for a track that almost sounds like something the Verve might do (no kidding). From the above track explanations, it might seem like the disc is rather all-over-the-place. While the group does pull influences from lots of different styles, they're good at encorporating them into their sound rather than simply mimicking others. It's another inventive release from the group, and while every single track doesn't work (most notibly the aforementioned "Black Smoke Rises"), Dälek are doing things differently in the hip-hop world, and that's a good thing.