Dälek’s new rarities compilation, Deadverse Massive, is being released on reputable independent hardcore and metal label Hydra Head; this speaks volumes about the duo. Though technically specializing in hip-hop, the approach through which Dälek creates their chaotic beat blitzkrieg is anything but old school. Noisy, churning, engulfed in feedback and static, Dälek and Oktopus make music far more fearsome than the typical emcee/deejay duo. Consider this, in addition to other tells such as Mastodon being in their MySpace top 8, and it begins to make sense why this hip-hop combo would be releasing material on a label known for having the likes of Botch and Jesu on their roster.
Deadverse Massive isn’t a metal or hardcore album, of course, but there are certainly parallels through which fans could find common ground. Dälek is a bit less like Botch or Big Business, and a bit more like the shoegazing thunder of Jesu or the epic sonic sprawl of Isis. The latter is a particularly apt point of reference, given that Isis has also released albums on Dälek’s full time home, Ipecac. Yet this particular collection comes as a curious selection for the group’s first outing on a label chock full of grinding riffs and thunderous beats, as Deadverse contains some of the duo’s most sedate selections overall.
Considering Deadverse Massive is a collection of outtakes and b-sides, its own existence is one bound by context. Few listeners if any will pick up this record before the group’s others, merely for the fact that its content doesn’t represent the definitive Dälek sound, but one of experimental diversions and ambient excursions. “Megaton (Deadverse Remix)” begins with ambient waves and slow grooves, yet escalates into an enormous beast of an epic rap symphony. Yet vocals drop out for track two, the eerie instrumental “Angst.” “Vague Recollection” is a slightly noisier instrumental exercise, and it isn’t until track five, “Desolate Peasants,” in which Dälek’s noisy apocalyptic rap clearly rears its gloriously static ridden head. All hell breaks loose with the destructive sample battle royale of “3:46,” easily the most frightening piece of music on this release. Though their remix of Enon’s “In This City” has one of the most calming and pleasant sounds on the entire album.
As the nature of rarities collections, Deadverse Massive has a patchwork feel, veering in a million directions at just as many miles per hour. A big part of that is the abundance of remixes, which find the original works of Kid606, Enon and Techno Animal peeking through underneath the cacophony. It may not be an album for first-timers, but for existing fans, Deadverse Massive reveals many worthwhile nuggets without having to put in the hours on eBay searching for singles.
Dälek – Absence
Techno Animal – The Brotherhood of the Bomb
DJ Spooky – Songs of a Dead Dreamer
Jeff Terich is the founder and editor of Treble. He's been writing about music for 20 years and has been published at American Songwriter, Bandcamp Daily, Reverb, Spin, Stereogum, uDiscoverMusic, VinylMePlease and some others that he's forgetting right now. He's still not tired of it.