Album Review: Blue Sky Black Death – Third Party

Blue Sky Black Death – Third Party
Fake Four: 2010

It’s very likely that Kingston and Young God are two of the most exciting and yet criminally overlooked musicians of the past few years. It’s also very likely that even by their collective name, Blue Sky Black Death, the duo is still relatively unknown to the average ear. That said, this duo has been just about everywhere and then some since jumping on the scene in 2006, all while recording (mostly) for their label-of-choice, Babygrande.

However, with almost two years under its belt in between albums, Blue Sky Black Death has made some changes both geographically and musically for its latest release, Third Party. Jumping ship to the enormously popular Fake Four (for those not paying attention, yes, it has a cult-like following), BSBD maintains its cinematic brand of electronica over the course of 45 minutes, however there are notable differences in its sound.

Most apparent, this album makes use of less instrumentals and more vocal arrangements, which may lead some to classify this as more of an alternative or pop/rock album, rather than hip-hop or electronic. That’s perfectly fine, and quite honestly is a natural progression from the duo’s previous effort Slow Burning Lights. Furthermore, it fits right in with the alternative and experimental brand of hip-hop/electronic music produced by the Fake Four roster.

What truly sets Third Party apart from albums such as Late Night Cinema lies in its subtleties. Third Party is far more unassuming. It is slow to accelerate, and this is by design. Therefore, when the climatic segments roll around, it’s less of a jolt and more of an atmospheric experience. Unfortunately this strategy leaves a bit to be desired. By building tracks so slowly (many of which simply plateau), there are fewer awe-inspiring and blood-boiling moments to be had. The trouble lies in the album’s mixed emotions. Many songs, such as “Absentee”, boast a pleasantly calming soundscape that is simply contradicted by lines like “Mark me condemned, and mark me as vacant.” Happy, and yet, oh so sad.

Still, there are plenty of upsides to Third Party. In fact, the album as a whole plays much more to its strengths than its weaknesses. Taking again a cinematic theme, Third Party plays like a film from start to finish, and rewards listeners with the ultimate finale in “Scandal” – likely the album’s finest piece. The duo also kept the album sonically cohesive, which means that its (relatively) short run-time was yet another smart decision. Fans of Blue Sky Black Death will surely enjoy Third Party for its winning moments, but be warned that it will drag just a bit.

3.5 out of 5

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