Released by Fake Four Inc.
For an emcee with an absurd number of aliases (Onry Ozzborn, Reason, Count Draven etc.), Michael Martinez seems to have found his true identity as Cape Cowen with Dark Time Sunshine. The dystopian malevolence of his earlier work with Grayskul and Oldominion has largely given way to witty and astute musings on the human condition via Vessel. His shift in approach is reminiscent of Cage's reinvention of himself some five years ago. While a dark, nebulous undercurrent remains, rays of sunlight occasionally peak through the Venetians.
The sinister soundscapes of Zavala, the Chicago-based producer and other half of Dark Time Sunshine, propel Cape Cowen toward the most focused work of his burgeoning career. Zavalas's sound is equal parts boom bap and psych-rock. The consistency of his beats provides the platform for a wide array of subject matter to develop without sacrificing continuity. A tongue-in-cheek Cape Cowen refers to the project as snob rap and places it somewhere on the continuum between MGMT and Outkast. He is at his storytelling best on "E.R." and "Little Or No Concern," the latter track a somber, heartfelt tale of inherited addiction. P.O.S. and Aesop Rock breathe fire over lo-fi funk on "Primor
," which epitomizes everything a posse cut should be. Vessel reaches its cinematic apex on the dense, uptempo "All Aboard
," with assistance from Reva Devito on the beautiful, swirling hook. No song better encapsulates Cowen's artistic transformation.