Released: May 2013
Genre: Hip Hop | Abstract
Artist Country: Germany
License: CC BY-SA
This is a review that is long overdue from me. I’ve had this release in my collection for a couple of months, and every time I listen to it I think that I need to do a write-up of it. But then I get distracted by something else (my show, or writing something else) and I forget about writing it up.
But I am going to rectify this injustice now: Take Off Your Makeup is one of the most pleasantly surprising releases of the year in my book.
I was admittedly a bit reserved when I saw the word “abstract” in the genre description. Sometimes “abstract” really means “minimal”, which may or may not be good. In the right hands, a minimal work strips things down to its essentials, and in the process reveals relationships between the parts of a piece that might be lost in a more densely arranged composition. In the wrong hands a more abstract or minimal work strips back the layers, leaving a combination of parts that don’t offer any real interplay, or insight into the piece.
However, that doesn’t really apply to this release at all. I believe that this release is labeled as “abstract” because the hooks tend to be more stripped back, and the overall structure of each piece is driven by the solid rhythmic loops with solid arrangements that make the listen snap their fingers, bob their heads, or dance in their chairs unconsciously.
And that’s why I describe this release as pleasantly surprising. I hadn’t expected a work that I would find myself engaging with on a physically unconscious level. But that is the genius of Spiedkiks: even if the pieces are somewhat understated, they are complete, hooky and catchy.
The other thing that Spiedkiks has excelled on in this release: collaborating with artists that really help push their songs up to the next level. The vocals by Floyd Alvaro & Nicholas on The Day Before are excellent. The Chapman Stick Bass on Freak Boutique by Jero Castella lends more to the overall hook and texture of the piece than any sampled bass could.
The only piece I can find fault with on this release is Kitchen Suite which is a fun romp through a series of un-completed pieces the duo has worked on. While it is a fun piece, I would have preferred if they had taken two or three of the segments worked them into a single song, and saved the rest for a future release. There is obviously enough material in the Kitchen Suite to come up with three or four pieces from it.
(For the record – I do get the play on words in the title Kitchen Suite, and really like the opening by Johannes Hehrmann, but still think that the works in this piece could have been used better.)
But overall, this is definitely one of my favorite releases so far this year. If you haven’t already found this release, check it out now. If you like Hip-Hop and/or Trip-Hop, you won’t be disappointed by this release.