WRCU Reviews: Hip Hop Review

Aaron Shier

LA-based producer (and sometimes emcee) Thavius Beck returns for his second solo album on Mush Records, once again constructing atypical electronic soundscapes rooted in a hip-hop aesthetic and blended with brash drum and bass style breaks. The album contains an artful balance of instrumental tracks in addition to an assemblage of vocal talents, including Beck himself, Saul Williams, Mia Doi Todd and Nocando.

Beck’s instrumentals unite densely layered samples with dark, melodic pulsating synths and intricately arranged, rapid drums. Thru is a fairly dark, brooding experience both musically and lyrically. The intensity and aggressiveness of Beck’s electronic productions weigh the album down at times, although a few lighter, soaring atmospheric tracks lighten the load. The vast array of percussive sounds that Beck explores keeps things fresh.

On Thru, Beck’s productions are simultaneously mercurial and steady. “Down,” with its haunting vocals and a recurring slightly off-beat sound effect of shattering glass, evokes a terrifying experience that infinitely lingers. “Perpetual Pursuit” contains a funky slap bass that seems to be on the brink of dashing off, but never does. “The Storm Before the Calm” suggests being amidst enduring madness. The blinding light at the end of the ominous tunnel depicted on the album’s cover implies that the “calm” that eventually arrives is a morbid one.