I’ll admit that my first listen through the debut release from Marijuana Deathsquads wasn’t… pleasant. It was underwhelming to the point of deletion. I didn’t pay anything for it, so I didn’t feel bad about it. It’s still available for free on their website.
Tamper, Disable, Destroy is the first (and perhaps only, knowing the fickle state of the producer) release from Ryan Olson, the brainchild behind the best supergroup this side of the Wu-Tang Clan, GAYNGS. Olson reminds me of Quentin Tarantino in a way I can’t even begin to explain unless you’ve seen his on-stage persona: heaping doses of skeez and arrogance that only a certain type of person can manage to portray without coming off as a complete asshole.
TDD’s biggest strength is also its main weakness: a lack of cohesion. There’s not a singular category in which you can place this record outside of “weird” – and even that is a poor description. It’s a bizarre and, at times, confusing amalgam of industrial (think Gorillaz) and alternative hip-hop (think anything ever released by Rhymesayers).
And it wouldn’t be a true Olson project without a veritable cornucopia of contributing artists, including:
Justin Vernon (Bon Iver, GAYNGS)
Channy Leaneagh (Poliça, GAYNGS, Roma di Luna)
Har Mar Superstar
And other artists with amusing names like:
Spyder Baybie Raw Dogg
and my personal favorite: Tennis Rodman
Tracks like the opener “We Do This” succeed because of said collaborations, with all the artists bringing their various assets. Familiar usage of the same vocal effects as Justin Vernon’s on Relayted (must be a favorite of producer Ryan Olson’s) also helps.
“Top Down” features Channy and Astronautalis, which is some sort of indie dream collaboration for me. “MGatP” – reminds me of the Kavinsky/Lovefoxxx collabo on the Drivesoundtrack, which is one of the best in recent memory. And since I’m not reviewing soundtracks this year, check it out.
“Same Pizza” again has Astronautalis, who I think steals TDD’s spotlight with his cameos. “Animal” sounds like some sort of adaptation of Nine Inch Nails’ “Closer” lyrically and stylistically. It’s more an interpretation than a cover, and an interesting, loose one at that.
“Goddamnland” is the low point of the album. It’s a Beck-inspired mess, but a single dud of a track out of the lot of 10 ain’t bad.
Most intriguing when you download the record is a quote on the art insert. And since it’s free, you have no real reason not to try it. The quote comes from Jacy Catlin, Internet person. Pay close attention to the first paragraph, because after that, it all breaks down in a feverish psych-haze.
The process of listening to music is, by nature, a process of discovery. The music itself has of course been created previously by the musicians, but may have lived for years trapped in a cassette jammed in a broken car stereo or a chip implanted in the hip of a corpse. Music stays stored safely as the artist intended – until the first press of the “play” button. The listener has the ability to unlock the beats at will; unless mistakes are made.
A poor decision leads to an attempt to record onto ice, lava, or meat. The intended musical communication has been unalterably and satisfyingly ruined. With improper storage, the songs have escaped to the fields, mated with the animals, and are now heard only as confused bleats let out by their young. The ice may melt, the lava may delavafy, the meat ay melt, but in this new damaged form, the details which were lost or mutated, have reluctantly lost any ability to suffice.
You have made many mistakes. You were that confused bleating animal, calling into the night to no response. We have done what we could.
From 2012’s Tamper, Disable, Destroy, this is Marijuana Deathsquad’s “Top Down” –
Standout tracks: “We Do This” and “Top Down”
Weakest track: “Goddamnland”
RIYL: GAYNGS, Gorillaz, Doomtree and Rhymesayers. Alternative rap? Industrial rap? Idk, vaporwave. This album is all over the place stylistically, but somehow it works because Ryan Olson.
Link: Available for free at marijuanadeathsquads.com.