Dark Time Sunshine – Vessel
Fake Four Inc.: 2010
Purchase on Amazon
The diversity within underground hip-hop is what truly makes it such an intriguing musical realm. You can have acts like Intuition and Atmosphere tackling the woes of chasing females, among other topics, while acts like Tanya Morgan recall the days when Native Tongues reigned supreme. Then, you have a duo like Dark Time Sunshine, which is made up of Onry Ozzborne, best known for his work with Grayskul, and Portland producer Zavala. The two don’t exactly exist in the underground, if you want to be literal. Rather, these guys occupy the far reaches of outer space, where like-minded artists El-P and Aesop Rock have sometimes called home over the years. The latter of those two even makes an appearance on here.
Call it space-hop, fringe-hop, or whatever the hell you want to. But Vessel, the duo’s latest offering, is simply well put-together rap music that may or may not have been created in our galaxy. As soon as the opening title-track, which bangs with distorted guitars, kicks off, you know you are in for an interesting listen, both musically and lyrically.
And that’s exactly what you get on here. “Now They Know” is Ozzborne’s haunting State of the Union while “E.R.” is a stuttering Nine Inch Nails-esque trip to the hospital. Then you have a posse-cut like “Primor” that boasts killer verses from show-stealer P.O.S., Peegee 13, Aesop Rock, and Ozzborne. They would rip it across any beat, but Zavala complements the insanity perfectly with emerging horns and tribal horns while DJ Zone scratches the hell out of the hook. Later on the album, Solillaquists of Sound, Xperience, and Qwel, who slays his verse, turn “Instructions to Numb” into a joint that would sound right at home on a Subtle album.
Vessel only falters slightly when considering its replay value, which is slightly hindered by its hour-long playing time. The first few listens to this record are actually the most intriguing because these kind of sonic experiences don’t come around too often. Its dense, heady vibe makes repeated spins somewhat difficult as your enjoyment of the record becomes heavily based on your mood. But when the mood strikes you for something a little different, I bid you good luck in finding a better album from 2010 that will suit your needs.