‘Choose Your Delusion EP Vol. I’

2009 (Re-released 2010)

Big Hell EP cover

Tracks –

1. Black Jack The Ripper     (4:23)

2. You Can Ask Me Anything     (3:20)

3. She Only Comes Underwater     (3:59)

4. Little Pigs     (3:47)

5. Twist Off Caps     (3:35)

6. Retro Control     (3:34)

Who – Tommy Rau – Vocals, Keyboard, Guitar

Gabe Turner – Keyboards, Bass

Where – North Carolina

Hailing from the creative hotbed that is Durham, North Carolina; Big Hell are very much cast from the same mould as TV On The Radio and The Coup. Primarily hip-hop, the production pairing of Tommy Rau and Gabe Turner weave dystopian industrial synthesizers, heavy auspicious rock and indie influences together into a fitting soundtrack for the backdrop of our ongoing post capitalist melt down.

Leading the charge is the vocals of Rau, whose style falls somewhere in-between the hazy drawl of Tunde Adebimpe and the rap delivery of artists like Aesop Rock and Hymnal – whose work with Cut Chemist springs to mind.

Political diatribes and wry social commentary via the use of allegorical references and twists on fairy tales and myth play right at the heart of Big Hell, cynical postulations and conjecture pepper every track, as a wake up call is advocated.

The EP Choose Your Delusion plays on the famous two volume album cock rock of Guns’n’Roses own Use Your Illusion, whose posing play school metaphor tripe is given short shrift treatment here, heavily effected lead guitars are taken away from the artificial soaked ego of Slash and placed alongside more reverential and ambitious explorations.

On tracks like ‘Black Jack The Ripper’, a sarcastic thank you to the President for ruining everything is backed by what sounds like A Clockwork Orange mixed with some alarming apocalyptic 70’s sci-fi theme tune.

The TVOTR alluding ‘You Can Ask Mr Anything’ takes a more sedate approach with its free flowing change of direction. Helium induced samples, swaying lead guitar and keyboards make this a more laid back pleasant listen, though hypnotic.

‘Little Pigs’ uses a more oriental array of melodies and sounds reminiscent of Wu-Tang Clan. Tales of stool pigeons and receiving dues are related over a more rapid straight tightened beat.

The 80’s have swamped most musical genres by now, even running riot here on ‘Retro Control’, where teenage boys favoured films from the era, like Risky Business and Weird Silence, dare to tread. The opening line sample of the track I think is from the latter movie but its those Highlander dry ice keyboard melodies that really evoke the period, lending an almost too un-cool to not be cool dimension.

In a way it reminds me of The Yeah Yeah Yeahs ‘Skeletons’, which also takes some un-seemingly pastiche and makes it good, charging it with some much-needed passion.

‘Choose Your Delusion Vol. I’ is a resounding success, an EP that will rattle a few cages and hopefully lead to better things. Anyone right now who takes shots at the media and mediocrity of modern life’s political landscape with sneering snarls like these is destined to be sidelined for more appetising mainstreamers, yet they do manage to provide some slinky grooves and melodies, which could deceptively cover up their more confrontational agenda.

A second volume EP should surface in the next month or two and a full on album, entitled The Day We Dropped The Bomb Again, is set for release sometime near the end of the year.

When they can be coaxed away from the studio, Big Hell swell their ranks upwards to 10 members for the live performances, which sounds mighty impressive and has to be worth witnessing.

It’s hip-hop alright, made in the best possible way and with the best of intentions.

 

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