Blue Sky Black Death
The production duo of Kingston and Young God made a name for themselves in the liars of the hip hop underground, producing for notables such as Jean Grae, Cunninlynguists, Hell Razah and others. Even with that track record and the hip hop tag applied to them, the group has always had a more synth-pop feel to their sound than your average hip hop producer. It’s with that in mind, the group releases it’s most diverse and distant hip hop sounding album, Third Party.
Picking up where 2008′s Slow Burning Lights left off, Blue Sky Black Death hits the listener off with electronic sounds, synths, and crisp melodies all while being backed up by vocals of Alexander Chen on most tracks. It’s these vocals that lend to the overall mood of the music. The best way to describe the sounds of Third Party would be deeply cinematic, almost causing a motion picture to be painted in the listeners subconscious. Tracks like “Set Fire,” which is strictly instrumental in nature, employs a throbbing bass line and give vivid images of a chase scene through the streets of Vienna or some place exotic. The very next track, “Institution,” with it’s mildly upbeat vocals and music gives that “coming of age” moment of a movie. “Threats of Gold,” shines the images of a hero coming back from defeat, with it’s looped guitar bit, keys and driving bass line. It’s times like these that while the music is vivid and personal, it still doesn’t diverge from being just overall great music.
One can’t really fault the group for it’s different direction on Third Party, but it’s not going to be the hip hop production that people who have been listening to them since their inception would expect. A change in style isn’t a fault, but it’s something to keep in mind for some of their long time listeners. If one can step out of their usual perceptions of the group and appreciate the different nature of the music, they will be rewarded, but the music probably isn’t going to be for everyone. The vocal presentation always tends to nearly the same, and for those of us that are in-tuned to the sounds the production, it can wear thin from time to time. Ultimately though, the vocals do a nice job of painting more sound and layering it all together. Third Party is one of the more mature efforts musically to come out of the production duo and could possibly find a niche that gives them their just due.