Immediacy drives cLOUDDEAD. The schizophrenic collective made up of Anticon’s why?, Odd Nosdam, and Doseone (Yoni, David, and Adam, respectively) throws bleeps, blips and broken, beat-esque “English” over found sounds, borrowed conversations (listen to “Our Name” and hear Dose’s neighbor “getting punked to the bone”), and layers of ready-made noise. The effect is intensely paranormal, and an ultimately fascinating listen.
The group’s self-titled debut — released in 2001 as a series of ten-inch singles — was a hip-hop breakthrough, though many are still hesitant to classify cLOUDDEAD as anything other than a confederacy of curious, experimental rappers. Tweaked samples, twisted, exaggerated word play, and an underlying industrial agenda defined their first album as an atmospheric, meditative anomaly. Ten is, in their own words, “All this and more at a Pyramidi video shoot.” A focused, thematic socio-political observation, Ten‘s command of mix structure and the language of sound challenges communication in a broad sense.
Ten has the style to “say it all” in its own language. Underlying down-beat drum work, levels of clever vocal interplay, and an extended sound bite monologue in the opening track, “Pop Song,” the question, “Elvis: What happened?” is repeated throughout in an apparent self-examination. The song closes with “And then we said ‘fuck’ in our pop song.”
The rest of the program, like “The Keen Teen Skip” — where the need to “break out the blender again” is explained in a “piece by piece” track listing — speaks for itself. “Son of a Gun” goes through a lineage of leaders who have been “offed,” adding, “G-Dubya might just jump the gun.” A similar motivation drives “Rifle Eyes,” a fierce diatribe with the message: “point: Minnows have teeth in their throats.”
cLOUDDEAD, who’ve said Ten would be their last release, challenges the dominant power system — from politics to hip-hop to you, listener — at every angle. They’re true artists in this regard. By the time you reach the end of “Our Name,” with the frantic sounds of “electricity, metal and water” fading back in after over 11 minutes of dead air, you’ll swear someone’s in your house messing with your washing machine.