Thavius Beck will, in his own words, "always do that other thing." While still counted in the underground hip-hop census, The Artist Formerly Known As Adlib won't be caught shuffling off to the thrift shop with Anticon or battling the ballooning egos of this month's producer or MC du jour. "I'd like to think of myself as someone who has a foundation in hip-hop," Beck offers, "but doesn't belong to or owe anything to a genre."
An avowed devotee of prog-rock and fusion, Beck doesn't feel the pressure to revisit the vibrant cityscapes he cut his teeth on with LA's Global Phlowtations. Rather, his artistic trajectory lands him in the gray area just north of the rocky terrains inhabited by the likes of Dalek and label-mate Octavius. "I want to combine the aggressiveness of harder rock with hip-hop drums and some electronic programming," Beck asserts, "and create something with my own signature sound."
But Decomposition, the producer's Mush Records debut, is more than a merely rote sum of those aspirations. Bumping beats are pocked and grated, vocals hacked and reassembled, and shreds of melody weathered by distortion, lending a physical and spiritual decay to Beck's hypnotic, hyper-detailed tracks. In perhaps the best example, Cedric of Mars Volta wails scorched poetry in the distance while the fuzzed piano of "Amongst the Shadows" loops on an uncertain axis, battered by a hurricane of deconstructed break beats, oscillating sirens, and red-lined bass.
Beck himself paints his music as "dark, emotional, fractured, melodic, personal soundscapes. It reflects my mood at the time I made it. For the most part I'm pretty serious, so my music tends to be more serious." Call it electronic psychedelia informed as much by 'musique concrete' as by the hostility of punk and the paranoia of mid-to-late-80's industrial. And then play it again.