INSTRUMENTALEPATHY by The Gaslamp Killer
Genre: Jazz Fusion, Instrumental Hip Hop
Favorite Tracks: “Pathetic Dreams,” “Warm Wind (Frimpong),” “Residual Tingles”
INSTRUMENTALEPATHY is an album that goes to a place where not many albums have been, or even know about. It will take you to the outer reaches of space, through time and darkness. It will transport you to caves on other planets, and inside the wreckage of totaled starships. INSTRUMENTALEPATHY sounds like punk rock, instrumental hip hop, and a sci-fi movie score got together and dropped some acid. This is a sound that occurs when fresh ideas and technical artistry come together with a strange kind of synergy that will certainly take you to some place far from home.
The journey begins on “Pathetic Dreams” as a child’s voice sings, “This is the way the world ends.” Haunting synths creep up as a resonant humming that sounds like Tibetan meditation soon joins the ensemble to accent the surreal atmosphere. Essentially, The Gaslamp Killer creates an eerie atmosphere on the first track that sets a tone for the rest of the album: experimental, post-modern, and sometimes disturbing. As an album consisting of electronic instrumental hip hop, INSTRUMENTALITY refuses to stick to a certain sound, but instead goes for a certain aura. The muddied guitar and drums of the second track serve as quite the sonic contrast to the ethereal hymn preceding it, but the album still has a cohesiveness and texture that brings it all together.
The instrumental aspects of INSTRUMENTALEPATHY consist of jazz-inspired drum loops on tracks like “Residual Tingles” and “Gammalaser Kill,” while the telepathic aspects consist of SINE waves, synths, and auditory erosion that make me feel like I’m listening to an extra-terrestrial broadcast. However, that’s not to say the album doesn’t have its smooth and ethereal moments. In fact, The Gaslamp Killer’s arsenal of musical persuasion on “Residual Tingles” also contains violins and dream-like vocals that bring a sense of awe and discovery. Don’t get comfortable, though — INSTRUMENTALEPATHY is dark and ominous, and that at times can feel like a lot to stomach. “Shred You to Bits” has a presence that lingers; it’s loud and violent. The interlude consists of a distorted snarl (just listen to it), and is perhaps one of the most unsettling sounds found on the album, but that’s not to say “dark” and “heavy” are synonymous with “bad.” In this case, it’s quite the opposite. Skill and artistry are very apparent on every track if you can handle the chaos that at times feels jarring.
The Gaslamp Killer’s vision for the album is visual, resulting in something that is slightly less music than it is sound. The album opts for conceptual development and experimentation as opposed to melodic chord progression and other traditional elements of musical composition, yet it still comes together to form something both visceral and temporal. It’s a sound that I can see evolving into something beautiful, bringing back the nostalgic punk of hip hop instrumentals in a way that seems ahead of the present. Listening to it, my mind takes me to a place that is at times both spiritual and dark. Any piece with such a capacity is noteworthy.
The nature of INSTRUMENTALEPATHY as a whole lends itself to interpretation. I hear it as something like the score of a musically-driven short film. It has experimental components and creates atmosphere and ambience as opposed to musical structure. If you’re someone who enjoys feeding your ears along with your brain (insert chuckle) (brainfeeder reference) then check it out, as you will surely find yourself intrigued, entranced, and enriched. Fans of music, particularly instrumental hip hip, should at least give the album a listen, but, if you shy away from dissonance and grit, you may prefer something lighter. That being said, I strongly encourage clearing your mind, turning down the lights, and taking a trip with The Gaslamp Killer, because if nothing else, INSTRUMENTALEPATHY is a deep trip into space, as well as the greater universe.