The Skull Eclipses (Lushlife + Botany), Dälek

WXPN Presents

The Skull Eclipses (Lushlife + Botany)


HPrizm (High Priest of Antipop Consortium)

Fri, March 9, 2018

Doors: 8:00 pm / Show: 9:00 pm


This event is 21 and over

All shows are 21+ Proper I.D. required for admission

The Skull Eclipses (Lushlife + Botany) - (Set time: 11:00 PM)
The Skull Eclipses (Lushlife + Botany)
Known respectively for their independent work as Botany and Lushlife, Austin producer Spencer Stephenson and Philadelphia emcee Raj Haldar selected their collaborative mantle and debut album title, The Skull Eclipses, when the project became more than just a one-plus-one combination of their individual sounds. These tenured creators initially set out to pay homage to the genres that convergently inspired them to start producing music in the late 90s and early 00s-- jungle, breakbeat, drum’n’bass, trip-hop, electronic ambient, etc.-- and bring them into the context of contemporary hip-hop. The outcome is a heavy-hitting, eleven-track post-rap montage that seeks refuge from the present by opening doors to the past, winding up with something altogether more futuristic than either of its authors had consciously intended.

The title The Skull Eclipses was originally given to a demo that Stephenson sent Haldar in 2014, but it quickly became apt for the darker subject matter and emotional tone that the record and project assumed. Accordingly, Haldar’s lyrics are a free-associative expression of grim frustrations that he and Stephenson felt could be lost behind the perceived sunniness of their solo identities: the value of life amid a growing population, Islamophobia directed at people with brown skin (Haldar himself is Bengali), poverty, pharmaceutical abuse, mortality, mental illness, international conflict, police shootings, and the continual failure of the drug-war that began when the album’s creators were just children.

Haldar’s words and vocal performances were written and recorded during a weeklong artist residency in Tulum, Mexico. Indicative of the arcane crossmedia inspirations behind The Skull Eclipses, this spot was chosen partly for its connection to the obscure Federico Fellini and Milo Manara graphic novel Viaje a Tulum, but also for the city’s history as a center of conflict, worship, and ancient mystery. However, what was glimpsed there instead fueled the grievances of the album’s more earthly subject matter. “Tulum is where wealthy ‘ecotourists’ spend thousands of dollars a night, while the locals’ hard work never stops,” Haldar remarks, “so the increasing problems of wealth distribution were never out of sight or mind, even in a place that looks like paradise.” Still, the location allowed a space for the rapper’s personal identity to manifest. On The Skull Eclipses Haldar appears as himself in unguarded turns alongside his Lushlife persona, contrasting it with subdued delivery and melancholic admissions of auto-biographical turbulence like on the record’s Free Design sampling midpoint “Take My”.

The Skull Eclipses is not without a well-suited guest roster. On “Pillars” Felicia Douglass from the Brooklyn band Ava Luna lends an infectious chorus, while Shabazz Palaces’ less verbal half Tendai Maraire provides the percussion beneath his most prominent verse yet released. Lojii borrows the spotlight for an immaculate, off-the-cuff performance on the dancehall-laced album highlight “Gun Glitters”. Open Mike Eagle lists a few of the infamously inexcusable reasons for police shootings in recent times on the mournful “Gone”. Though perhaps the most surprising appearance is ambient luminary Laraaji who contributes his trademark electric zither to “Yearn Infinite II”, a slow churning interlude that precedes the album’s double-timed breakbeat closer “Spacecrafts in Rajasthan”.

Even with strong contributions from Haldar and guests, rap vocals on The Skull Eclipses become part of the Stephenson’s nebulous instrumentation, alternately congealing and dissolving around the beatwork. Stephenson’s trademark fractalline style is noticeably more inclement here than on the tie-dyed psychedelia of his Botany records, and it provides ample buoyancy for the vocalists to float atop throbbing bass, gothic chants, somber vinyl samples, and tape-destroyed speech. Tracks are glued together with interstitial bad-trip creep-ups: melting choirs, doomsday evangelists, and the Judica-Cordiglia recordings that are purported to have captured the sounds of Russian kosmonauts burning up on reentry into Earth’s atmosphere. As grim and esoteric as that all may seem The Skull Eclipses might be the most directly gratifying product either of its head creators have ever issued. It’s the result of a rapper entrusting himself to a single producer, made all the more cogent by their kindred perspectives, offbeat mutual touchstones, and commitment to making albums that provide deep experiences in lieu of playlist-ready one-offs.
Dälek - (Set time: 10:00 PM)
Before Death Grips and clipping. there was Dälek. Hailed by critics as risk takers and pioneers for a new generation of hip-hop, Dälek are back on the road with a line up that features MC dälek at the controls, DJ rEk (original dälek DJ) on turntables, and Mike Manteca on samplers & effects. They return with their signature mind numbing, genre bending blend of beats, noise, and lyricism.

On their most recent critically-acclaimed album, Asphalt for Eden (2016), Dälek continues to build a catalog that breaks barriers. In its glowing 7.8 review, Pitchfork notes, "no matter how used to this group's agility we've become, it doesn't make the step forward it takes on this new material any less impressive."

Touring extensively for over a decade, Dälek have shared stages with influential artists such as KRS One, Tomahawk, The Melvins, TOOL, Grandmaster Flash, Jesu, Dillinger Escape Plan, Pharcyde, RJD2, De La Soul, Prince Paul, Lovage, ZU, Black Heart Procession, Earth, Flying Lotus, the Bug, Mastodon, and Fantomas.

Live, their shows are an intense event that often end in a shoved mic stand and sonically assaultive layers of sound. Witnessing Dälek live is like coming face to face with the bastard child of Public Enemy and My Bloody Valentine. An amalgamation of the heaviest noise that the Velvet Underground ever unleashed and the knowledge spit by the likes of Rakim, that leaves you in a trance and sends shivers down your spine from the haunting beats intertwined with ambient textures and noise-scapes, that are carried by a powerful raw flow from one of the most charismatic MC of his, or any era.
HPrizm (High Priest of Antipop Consortium) - (Set time: 9:00 PM)
HPrizm (High Priest of Antipop Consortium)
HPrizm is known for “Evoking images of Sun Ra and Afrika Bambatta at once (Jesse Sewer, XL8R magazine). As the founding member of the critically acclaimed Antipop Consortium, Prizm has consistently challenged the boundaries of traditional hip-hop, winning the praise of taste makers across the globe.

In the course of his career, spanning nearly a decade, With over 100,000 records sold, Prizm has shared the stages with a spectrum of artists including Radiohead, Mos Def, The Roots and Wadada Leo Smith. As a composer his pieces have been installed in the Whitney Biennial (NYC) as well as the Mazzoli Gallery (ITALY)- Prizm’s personal study and appreciation of audio synthesis has allowed him to provide innovate presets and sound design for several keyboard and software manufacturers such as KORG, Propellerhead and Native Instruments.

Recently, Hprizm toured and performed a collaboration with French conceptual artist Loris Greaud and award-winning film director, David Lynch - entitled “Snorks”.
Venue Information:
Johnny Brenda's
1201 N. Frankford Ave
Philadelphia, PA, 19125