Thursday, May 17, 2018

All-around Breakdown: THERE ISN'T VERY MUCH TIME: 14 ICE-COLD DEVASTATORS FROM COLD RHYMES RECORDS (Height's Label Comp.)


"Cold Rhymes [Records] has long been my own label for my own solo albums. I started releasing other people's music under the Cold Rhymes banner last Spring. Recently, my pals Mister & ialive have joined me in working behind-the-scenes to make this label a reality. This is a compilation of songs from all our recent/forthcoming releases.

The title comes from Kate Ferencz's opening track. In engaging with all these hard-working people over the last year, I'm constantly reminded how we're all engaged in a race against time. We all have to draw up our own battle plans and wage our own wars against the clock to bring this music and art into existence. I think, it's true that there isn't very much time and I'm amazed at the resolve my compatriots have to fight this fight."

- Height Keech (Cold Rhymes Records)


1. Kate Ferencz - "Who Do You Really Love?"

"If you're not careful the ideas and opinions of others—through numbers, volume, or repetition over time—can infiltrate your mind and come to override what you actually, know in your heart. Despite what the title suggests, "Who Do You Really Love?" isn't really a love song; it’s about knowing what you think and what you want and having the confidence to act accordingly, instead of letting other people decide for you."


2. Vans_Westly - "Love Machine"

"This is a song I wrote a little bit ago. It should give a hint at the direction I'm going with this album. Some people say it's Post-Rap and I guess, I kinda agree with that. Anyway, this is my song "Love Machine.'"


3. Trauma Lavern - "Ex Nihilo"

P.T. Burnem: "This was the first song that Erik and I wrote as Trauma Lavern. Sonically, we were looking to forge a large sound with a sort of brutal repetition. We [were] practicing at the spot called Garbers, a bare-bones warehouse in the middle of Richmond that was as hot as it was dusty. That environment definitely, helped give rise to the kind of sonic characteristics that you see on the track.

Erik and I met and forged our friendship during our participation in a band called D R O N E S, which was a very gentle sort of Rap-Folk project—but probably, a lot more interesting than that label would have you believe—and we were looking to delve into seriously aggressive and crunchy sonic territory.

Aside from the repetitiveness of the main baseline and drum combo, we were also, looking to embellish that with some atmospheric noise to make things more strange and as we sat down in the studio, Erik ended up pulling out his guitar and started doing some harmonics and swells that turned out to be the basis for that aspect of the track."


"Lyrically, I wanted to celebrate the fact that I had been touring on my motorbike and was just generally, excited by all things involving two wheels and combustion engines. Something unique about the way I tackled it, however, arose from the fact that I really don't like the extremely macho aspects of motorcycle culture. In fact, the thing that strikes me the most about riding a motorcycle on the highway is how small you feel and also, how graceful you feel. Riding a motorcycle is nothing like riding a car because you basically, steer by tilting your body and it gives you a physical connection to the machine that I have never found in a 4-wheeled vehicle. So, I really wanted to express how small and in place that riding made me feel. I also, threw in the usual commentary on the social scenario in The United States with The Wall Street section because I can't resist that sort of thing.

There are a few points, sonically, where the song gets very weird because, although, we wanted to establish this brutal repetition we also, are big fans of the change-up and also, the aesthetics of Noise music and the sword of surprising static and drop-outs and noises in that genre. We tried to incorporate those in a way that made sense for the track and I think, we succeeded.

One final note I'd make about the lyrics is that the part about my grandmother was put in because she used to ride motorcycles, as well and was probably, the first adult to sit down and tell me that the sort of nice calm life that I was living was not really the average way things worked. She grew up an orphan had a pretty tough life and was passing on some of that knowledge to me; it was the first time that I really understood how horrible the world could be."


4. Shark Tank - "Guest Spot" ["-feat." Mickey Free]

Height: "The plan for this song was to bring our former Shark Tank group member, ["John"] Mickey Free back into the fold for 8 bars. As you can hear in the rhymes, we're all highly anticipating 8 bars from Mickey Free. Alas, Mick Free never got his bars done, so I chopped this audio from a YouTube video he made in 2009 and let that function as his "guest spot." I wouldn't have it any other way."


5. Mister & Curt Cataract - "I'm Not The One"

Mister: "Sweet was turning sour and as it was, I wrote "I'm Not The One."'


6. Param Anand Singh - "Psychic Arpeggiator" (Height Keech Remix)

"This was a song I wrote for Nuclear Power Pants in the Fall of 2010, just as we were starting to slow down. I think, outside of a couple stray one-offs, the only time we would have played it would have been this 4 or 5-date tour we did in August 2011. The same one that The Shea Stadium recording of "I'm a Man" was from.

Futurism and this whole thing, where humans have this destiny to become super-intelligent beams of light was thick in the air around that time. And I just really, reacted strongly against it. You know, everyone was reading Ray Kurzweill's The Singularity Is Near and I picked up this weird transhuman self-help paperback from FM-2030. And it was this full-on Apocalyptic desperate hope type thing and at the same time, it was really sad. FM-2030 was hoping to make it to the year 2010, figuring that from there, he could prolong his life to 2030, by which time, he was sure we would have the means to live forever... but he died in 2000. I heard they froze his brain, but I'm sure that was a small consolation, for him.

Anyway, the lyrics are a response to Kurzweill and FM-2030. The music is me doing my best to re-create David Bowie's "Station to Station." The words are included in my poetry book, Yr Skull a Cathedral, coming out in July on Publishing Genius."


7. Darko The Super - "Talking Heads"

"I once heard the worst person to ask about the meaning of a piece of art is the artist. Maybe, that's not true. But I certainly don't feel the need to explain my music these days. I'd rather the listener interpret it and find a meaning for themselves. Someone told me Billy Joel's "Captain Jack" is about heroin, but I like my interpretation better; singing that song in my head calmed my nerves, as a younger Darko. That being said, let any of my songs mean whatever the Hell you want them to, 'cos I'm obviously, making it up as I go along, like everyone else. My favorite book is Breakfast of Champions by Kurt Vonnegut. In fact, I only read Kurt Vonnegut books. An influential person told me she could get me in the studio with David Byrne—it still hasn't happened. Maybe, that's what this song is about. This isn't "my beautiful life," but I accept it for what it is. I hope this answers all of your questions."


8. Speak N' Eye - "In The Hills"

Emceein Eye: "So, basically, this song is about me and my brother just walking/riding around I'm the foothills of North Carolina at night. My verse is talking about walking in the woods at night and leads into Josh [Unspeakable] talking about making bootleg wine and liquor. Where we live in NC, it's the home of NASCAR/moonshine lore, legend, and history. Josh's verse is referring to people in our family, who used to run white liquor with Junior Johnson and sh*t back in the day.

My favorite line from this song is: "trippin' over sh*t in the forest, give me a light, Unspeak can't do it, blind with no sight." It's sort of a funny personal double-meaning. Joshua can not see at all and is completely blind without his glasses. But I'm also saying we are walking in the dark and I can't see, so I need HIM to give me a light, but also, I'm saying he can't do it without me either.

Hopefully, I explained that right, but basically, I'm saying as brothers, we can't do it without each other. Hopefully, this makes sense. It's just a fun, adventurous song. A lot of our songs are about NC or relate [to it] in some way. I feel like we have a unique style and have certain phrases and things that are only specific to where we live and that type of language sort of sets us apart."


9. Goldzilla & Eddie Logix - "Stay Limber" *

Goldzilla: "I was hanging out with James Linck on a Friday night at The Old Miami. We were talking about the usual nonsense: girls, music, etc. James was at a point in his career, where he wasn't giving a f**k. He didn't care what people thought of his music or his shows; he was just going to do whatever he wanted (a state of mind I later adopted.) In the midst of the conversation, James dropped a drunken non-sequitur, "stay limber." Not in a sentence, no context, just the two words, "stay limber." That phrase sparked something for me. Especially, because when do you ever hear the word "limber?" I told James right there, "I'm going to make a song called "Stay Limber" and dedicate it to him. He probably, doesn't remember that. Eddie sent me the beat that Monday. The original version I wrote was very similar to [Large Professor &] Nas' "Stay Chisel," but I decided to take it a different route. I took James' words as a mantra for being true to yourself and staying original. Eddie and I recorded it that Saturday. I remember it taking a few takes to get it down, but I think the end result came out dope."

* EDITOR'S NOTE: "Stay Limber" is, actually, lifted from Goldzilla & Eddie Logix's self-released album, Immaculate Misconception (NOT A COLD RHYMES RELEASE!)


10. Jack Topht - "Come On Nike"

"recorded in like, 2008 by mr. ski-mask on 1-inch analog tape at the electric pumpkin patch studio on the east side of buffalo. lindsey did guitar, i did drums, and me and ski-mask did synths. i wrote the song, before i had a band, in 2000. nypirg was calling nike headquarters in the lobby of [university of buffalo] and encouraging students to complain about their sweatshop labor practices. my comedian mentor, velvet al, came up with the punchline that their sh*t should be cheaper, since they don't pay their workers much. i worked that into a song. eventually, i had a band i could do the song with—always a staple of lindsey and my band's from 2005-2010."


11. Height Keech - "Computer Rocker"

"When I dig back through the history of Rock "N" Roll, my heart goes wild with passion. Everything from the The Midnighters to The Amboy Dukes feels as alive and real as it must have felt to people back then. I feel close to it all, like it's right at my fingertips. I want to know it all and I want to know how to react to it now. I feel that people making non-Rock music are the keepers of the Rock "N" Roll flame. Modern Rock now feels like a regimented activity for Average Joes, but there's all these underground realms of music, where the spirit of reckless abandon is being born anew. "The Rocker" by Thin Lizzy has always been a favorite of mine. I wanted to make a song like that, but for me and the people in my world."


12. ialive - "Trash Heap"

"Around February of 2017, Height contacted me with an idea to get on a track for a compilation he was planning on Cold Rhymes Records. He sent me two beats. One, which I wrote and recorded to, almost immediately became "These Days" and the other, was a wild loop with such a unique sound that would become "Trash Heap." I connected with both tracks very fast and felt the need to bring a different approach for each beat. Not sure what would come of the songs, I felt Height could choose to include one or both on the compilation. When I sent the tracks off, Height responded with an idea to pursue a full project and we dove head first into TIMEWAVE ZERO.

The song "These Days" is less what I would consider to be a traditional Rap song: a structured chorus pinning nostalgic narratives together along a woozy loop. With that song existing, I wanted to come with a more braggadocio approach and flex some fly sh*t over the "Trash Heap" beat. Thinking about our respective cities, I wanted to use some immediate reference points alluding to Philadelphia and Baltimore, without getting too specific or bogged down in the process. If you look for them, it’s not too hard to find them."


13. Off The Meat Rack - "Another Day"

ZIPRHED: "I talk to myself a lot, when I'm depressed. So, [pretty] much all the time... it's 90% talking myself out of suicide and 10% hopes and dreams."


14. ialive, Speak N' Eye, Darko The Super, P.T. Burnem & Height Keech - "Work Boots Laced"

Height: "I'm hoping, posse cuts, like these, can become a staple of the Cold Rhymes world. I used to love how every Triple Six Mafia [Three 6 Mafia] album would end with a posse cut featuring a short rhyme from everyone on the label. I hope this is just the beginning of us banging out these squad songs!"

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