Representing the oft-overlooked genre of Scottish hip hop, The Church of When the Shit Hits the Fan blend bleeding-edge beats and classic hip hop stylings with diverse Celtic and metal influences. TGTF caught up with them at the launch gig of their second EP, the night before their biggest performance to date, on the T Break stage at T In The Park. Whilst their combination of dark, almost nihilstic lyrical tendencies and so-called “Doomcrunk” beats might be too much for some, their intensity is tempered by a tongue-in-cheek delivery. With a background in slam poetry, and previous experience as a professional clown, MC Harlequinade’s mixture of the literary and ridiculous makes for an entertaining and listenable show.
“I consider hip-hop to be a metagenre – instead of using funk and soul, we take our influences from black metal and integrate that into the hip-hop sound,” claims Harlequinade after the set. “Talk of the apocalypse doesn’t have to be negative – my approach is, the world could end tomorrow, so let’s have a party tonight!”
Citing obscure yet prolific hip-hop practitioner Noah23 as an influence, he’s sceptical about the relevance of more mainstream artists. “The underground hip hop scene is in a healthy state – but you have to dig deep beyond the usual knuckle-dragging, chest-beating mainstream acts to find the quality. I want to do something more cerebral.”
Is he looking forward to the band’s biggest performance to date tomorrow? “I’ve got mixed feelings about it. It’s great to be playing such a prestigious gig, but it’s an audience I never thought we’d be exposing ourselves to. We’re just going to have some fun.”
Has the time come when Scottish hip hop to makes a break for the mainstream? Only time will tell.
COWTSHTF 2 features a combination of surreal lyrical gymnastics and bombastic thermonuclear beats and runs the gauntlet from dancefloor-bangers through to hard hitting adrenaline rushes to odd psychedelic trips, delivering a true mind-fuck amalgam of sound and imagery.
Asthmatic Astronaut is one of the most in-demand producers in the Scottish hip-hop/electronica scene. He has been released by Tru Thoughts, Wah Wah 45s and has appeared on both volumes of the Stac remixes alongside luminaries such as Bonobo, Blue Daisy and Kid Kanevil. Originally discovered by Japanese label De:jine Records, he went on to tour with the consciously positive live-rap extravaganza Underling, playing with everyone from El-P, Roots Manuva, Mike Ladd and Aesop Rock to DJ Vadim.
Harlequinade is a vocalist/rapper who also performs with the Chemical Poets and Sileni. A veteran of poetry slams, he was the StAnza Slam Champion 2010 and has competed on an international level as part of Scotland’s Slam Team. Fusing influences from black clown, Dadaism, Samuel Beckett, Lovecraft and Bill Burroughs into hip-hop swagger, he is “a virtuoso display, like a jolt of electricity to the head” (The Skinny).
‘Watchmaker: Co-Axial Escapement’ was originally released after ‘Digest’ and ‘Optimum,’ and was composed at the same time as ‘Wives’ and ‘Five Knives.’ Laughing Gear explains: “We decided to release this as our changing styles caused too much confusion and didn’t demonstrate our main style properly.” The ever-diverse band achieved a synthesis of their varied styles on ‘Wives’ and their later albums, so they have chosen to start their re-release sequence with ‘Watchmaker’ as a prologue to the works that followed.
The album consists of lush electronic, produced by Quiet Man. Comparable to the works of Boom Bip or Alias, the album treads its own path. It is a slow burner which can grab you immediately in places, and creep slowly into your head elsewhere. Quiet Man himself describes it as: “…a moody, grinding soundtrack to the future,” and there are moments of intense beauty as well as dark menace.
EATERS TO RE-RELEASE ENTIRE BACK CATALOGUE ON BLACK LANTERN
Eaters are Laughing Gear (MC), Quiet Man (MC & Producer), Dopeamean Jim (DJ), and Tuck Pendleton (Producer): an Edinburgh-based hip-hop band who have been together for about 10 years. Throughout their career, the band has always strived to be unique. From the get-go, the band have been a self-contained unit, handling production duties, recording and mastering in their own studio, and designing their own covers and promotional material.
“We aspire to be more like Radiohead than Jay Z,” says Laughing Gear, and he’s not wide of the mark – the emotional honesty and complex time signatures in their work show the band to be far from the average battle rapper and hip-hop braggadocio (although their often excoriating lyrics and tough-edged beats certainly pack a punch). Each member brings a different influence to the band: Tuck Pendleton embraces all music regardless of genre, Quiet Man’s influences are hip hop, experimental and electronic music, while Jim and Laughing Gear bring the hip-hop purist direction. “We believe that every member’s sound should be given a chance to shine and grow, so we end up with widely different approaches at times, but our core sound is beats and rhymes,” explains Laughing Gear.
Ten years in, as they prepare to re-release their re-mastered back catalogue on Black Lantern Music, the band are not slowing down. They are still interested in anything creative: working on planning film scripts, designing artwork, or melding hip-hop into new shapes, as on the album ‘Five Knives,’ a circular story performed as a five movement musical, tied to movies through samples and elaborate references.
“We are bloody awful at self publicity,” Laughing Gear admits. Working with Black Lantern, the band hope to reach a fresh audience with their re-released and carefully re-worked albums. Once the five re-released albums are available to the public, the band will announce two major new album projects: ‘Control’ – described as industrial sci-fi and ‘Diablo’ which is intended to be offbeat aggressive madness. Black Lantern are proud to present the back catalogue of the Eaters free of charge – please download the albums and share them! We will be releasing them steadily over the next few months, so keep your eyes peeled on the site, and our Feed on Tumblr.
The first Eaters re-release - ‘Watchmaker: Co-Axial Escapement’ is out later today!