Albums Of The Decade, Part III

Ghostface Killah – Supreme Clientele (Razor Sharp/Epic/Sony Records; 2000)


Second solo offering from Tony Starks aka Ironman aka Pretty Toney aka Ghost Deini. Until Raekwon dropped his OB4CL2 this past year, Supreme Clientele was the last really great Wu-Tang solo album; after all the late-90s gems dropped by Wu-associates The Genius (Liquid Swords), Raekwon (OB4CL), Method Man (Tical) and Ol’ Dirty (Return to 36 Chambers) the Wu kinda disappeared after this joint. Of course, Ghost doesn’t write like the GZA but his flow is leaps and bounds above anyone else in the business; the only thing that makes this album less than perfect is the skits (hip-hop records need to cut that shit out) and that one whack song with U-God (Cherchez LaGhost), but for the most part it’s one of the best of the decade and an emphatic yes y’all from the Ghost; his swagger and confidence on this record is un-matched. Never boring, never repetitive- hell; the best beats on here aren’t even from RZA (although he was listed as executive producer, the unknowns made the best tracks here; Black Moes-Art‘s work on Nutmeg, Hassan‘s awesome backing track for Apollo Kids, Juju‘s track One and Choo The Specialist‘s dope beat for Malcolm). To RZA‘s credit, the best verse of his non-Wu-Tang career appears on the track Nutmeg.

Key tracks: Apollo Kids, Nutmeg, One, Malcolm


MC Paul Barman – Paullelujah! (Coup d’État Entertainment; 2002)


Nerdcore hip-hop from an Ivy-educated wunderkind with help from Prince Paul and MF Doom– songs about not getting laid (ever), pornographic fantasies of firin’ blanks into Tyra Banks, referencing both The Iliad and high school math formulas (SOHCAHTOA & PEMDAS); it’s a thoughtful, hilarious intelligent satire with tongue-twisting verbal acrobatics and really good beats. Here’s a sample of Barman‘s “cornucopia of porn utopia” on the track Cock Mobster: “…I’ll disrobe Lisa Loeb / I want a smelly slice of Kelly Price / Plus get with the hairy scar of Teri Garr / Lisa Bonet: I’d like a piece of your day / I would jizz early inside Liz Hurley…” Yeah, this man is sick- very, very sick. It’s all in good fun however; Barman‘s scathing send-up of bloated college activism (I think the students of UC-Berkeley would be served well to listen to MC Paul; stop taking yourselves so damn serious!) is at times both playful tongue-in-cheek and dead serious. I can’t tell which sometimes, and I think that’s Barman’s point. You dork.

Key tracks: Cock Mobster, Old Paul, Excuse You, Anarchist Bookstore Pt. 2


Efterklang – Tripper (The Leaf Label; 2004)


I fell asleep to this album every night for about six months straight. It’s kind of unfamiliar as I listen to it awake, I’m sure there’s something in my subconscious it speaks to. I do remember having gentle dreams that gave way to a vivid awareness; first my visions were soft and out of focus, the words half-spoken. Then cumulus clouds suddenly were forming and disappearing in mere seconds, suns setting and moons rising and then being whisked galaxies away to another planet- there seems to be a conversation going on somewhere above and behind me and I can’t turn fast enough to see where it’s coming from- is that an alien tongue? Maybe it’s Danish. I awaken, completely lost in my surroundings, that groggy half-second before you realize you’re alive and alone in the dark; not quite fright and not quite comfort. Silence. Deafening silence. But there’s an imprint in that silence, a pocket that used to hold a sound. That sound was Efterklang’s Tripper. Now it’s gone. I’m back asleep.

Key Tracks: Step Aside, Foetus, Swarming, Prey & Predator


Andrew Bird – Andrew Bird & The Mysterious Production Of Eggs (Righteous Babe; 2005)


Andrew Bird defies any and all classification. Is it pop? Rock? Classical? Apparently he’s been labeled as “baroque pop” which is as close an approximation as one could allow- he’s classically trained and plays more instruments than Prince, and can write catchy songs incorporating elements of orchestral-based flourishes here or there; his violin playing is incomparable (as well as mastery of guitar, mandolin and glockenspiel. Even his whistling is so good he sounds like a singing saw). So here on his third solo outing is where it all came together; perfect slices of indie chamber pop cut from the pie shared with George Martin‘s arrangements with The Beatles, those mid-60s Brian Wilson Beach Boys‘ harmonies and Village Green-era Kinks. Every song on this record incorporates something you’d hear at a symphony; coupled with Bird‘s lyrical prowess (I swear he could be a PhD in English, Physics, Biology, Chemistry, Metaphysics, Philosophy, etc.) it’s a fascinating record to behold- there’s a line from the song A Nervous Tic Motion Of The Head To The Left that I can’t ever seem to escape when I’m having an existential crisis: We had survived to turn on the History Channel and ask our esteemed panel, “Why are we alive?” And here’s how they replied: “You’re what happens when two substances collide, and by all accounts you really should have died…” That might be one of my favorite song lyrics of any decade…

Key tracks: Fake Palindromes, A Nervous Tic Motion Of The Head To The Left, Measuring Cups, Sovay


Black Moth Super Rainbow – Dandelion Gum (Graveface; 2007)


When they start space travel, and living in space, and all that space-related jazz, there will eventually be “space porn”. I mean, c’mon- ever since there’s been photography and then moving pictures, people have filmed each other naked; it’s inevitable. So this space porn is gonna need a soundtrack. This album from Pittsburgh-area synth freaks Black Moth Super Rainbow is the closest thing I’ve ever heard to my idea of space porn music, because I basically spend half my waking hours thinking about filming sex acts in outer space. Vocals vocoded beyond any discernible actual lyrics (although I’m sure they’re saying something), heavy old school analog synths; it’s the type of record you put on to take drugs to but realize half-way through that it’s freaking you out- you can’t stop thinking about alien threesomes and Captain Kirk 69ing Uhuru. It’s both not-of-this-Earth and creepily sexy. Maybe the lack of oxygen up here has turned me into a orbital pervert.

Key tracks: Sun Lips, Forever Heavy, Rollerdisco, Drippy Eye