Glitch-hop is casually acknowledged in the post-Prefuse world, yet a good portion of the best in the sub-genre is often overlooked. When combined with the international nature of Cappablack (the duo of Illeven and Hashim B. is Japanese), the group ends up with the same result Ghislain Poirier received last year. But like that Montreal-based up-and-comer and unlike, say, Melk, Facades and Skeletons is fully formed hip-hop, geared perfectly toward the headphone-head ready for a little experiment in beat composition.
The best songs here are easily the instrumentals. Awol One does a decent job, and Japanese emcee Emirp manages to rap over a 6/8 beat on “New Tone” (though who knows, maybe that’s easier in Japanese). But neither rapper could rap over some of these tracks. “Evil Clap” is all cut-up chaos until halfway through, when the beat forms into a cohesive whole and a funky piano line drops down into view. It’s a brilliant exercise in glitch-hop minimalism, a strange combo if there ever were one. Meanwhile, “City of Amnesia,” which uses breathing and hiccuping vocal sounds, almost sounds like an outtake from Bjork’s Medulla.
Japanese hip-hop has often been maligned for its mimic-like nature. The technique is there, but too often they seem to be heartlessly going through the motions, a German soccer club to America’s Brazilian one. But there are huge exceptions, and they mostly come in the form of deejays, most notably Krush. Cappablack is an easy addition to the list, because Japanese artists have always been interested in experimental work within a conventional frame. It is also welcomed because it is good, and at a time when beats are often stale and rigid, any producer ready to push the limits is an exciting addition to the genre.