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Review: Sirius Blvck - Year of the Snvke
Posted February 06, 2014 by Taylor Peters
WRITTEN BY
Taylor Peters
ON
February 06, 2014

Listen to two songs from Year of the Snvke via MFT's embeddable player:

 

 

About a third of the way in to “Running on Fumes (What a Year It’s Been),” track one on Sirius Blvck’s Year of the Snvke, he starts answering imagined questions about what he’s got in his backpack. His response is elliptical and just barely scans: “miscellaneous objects.” The rhyme, like the backpack I’ve got in my head, is tightly packed. After all, “miscellaneous objects” is seven syllables total, and it’s packed into a space that feels like it was built for six. Moments like these, when Blvck cram syllables and subdivisions in as tight as they’ll go, abound on Year of the Snvke.

    

Sirius Blvck

 

Take “Private Parties,” whose long ambient intro is short-circuited the second Blvck’s nervous spitfire enters (“Reptoids on Broad Ripple Ave.”). The dreamy beat gives Blvck a field to unfurl ever-long lines. The second verse in particular is a blur of swinging syncopation and inventive lyrical structure. It’s the space between the lines, though, that makes it. Blvck’s sense of when to lay out for a beat or two, or when to clip the end of his articulation, lets the back-and-forth between his verbal flits and the blissed out beats really come to the fore.  

 

And some of credit for Year of the Snvke’s strength has to go the production from LA-Based Bones of Ghosts (Blvck has worked with BoG before--scope last year’s Ancient Lights). Most of the beats are simple. And importantly they hang out at or below mid-tempo giving Blvck the room he needs to dive into sixteenth notes, thirty-second notes, etc. They’re almost spare, built sometimes only from a snare, kick, hat, and a woozy pad on which Blvck scrabbles like an acrobat up from the murk.

 

 

Then, of course, there’s the features. High points are everywhere, but the most memorable is Oreo Jones on “Bill Murray.” Jones’ own production has lately been a bit more laid back, so too has his rhyming style. With “Bill Murray,” though, he flexes. Rhymes nest, enjambment circles round and round, and dirty jokes get cracked over the driving clatter of a quarter note snare (“They’re asking ‘What About Bob?’/ Bitches slob on my knob”). It’s thrilling.

 

Oreo Jones

 

But, amid all this, what makes Year of the Snvke more than just one guy and his friends showing off how many words they can fit into a line, is Blvcks’ melodic sensibility. He knows how to hang just a bit of a catchy melody on the end of a line, how to integrate only a hair of tunefulness to keep his verses from getting monochromatic in one direction or sappy in the other. The way he sing/raps “kaleidoscopes in my irises” on “Heroine” is like a fish-hook for the whole track. It breaks up the pyrotechnics and yanks the ear in, dragging it along from verse to verse.

 

 

Or consider “Y.O.T.S.”  It’s the closest Blvck gets to straight-up singing on the album. He traces out a simple, almost mournful melody that contrasts the tentative optimism of the track. “I think I turned out ok in the year of the snake,” he sings on the song’s hook, as if even now he’s not quite sure. It’s moments like these that give Year of the Snvke a tenor of introspection, one that makes the complicated flows and all their zigging and zagging feel not just technical, but personal. It makes it all lodge so deep in your brain that it won’t come out until you wake up already singing along for at least a week.

 

Stream/Download Year of the Snvke in its entirety on Bandcamp


Also check out: MFT's exclusive interview with Sirius Blvck

 

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