Dark Time Sunshine – ANX
Fake Four Inc.: 2012
The boundaries of what’s labeled “hip-hop” are as vague as they have ever been right now. Guys who might be from Jersey are representing NYC while sounding like they just got out of Houston. A couple smart, but really pissed off, punk-inspired dudes from Sacramento are making the most abrasive strains of the genre humanly possible. The old kings of the underground are back proving they are still as sharp as ever with two of the best albums of the year. Through all the genre splintering in hip-hop, the duo Dark Time Sunshine are still functioning in their own lane in spite of everything, somewhere in outer space.
It’s been two years since the last DTS full length, Vessel, was released, and while they are still pursuing a similar sound and concept, it’s a far more refined final product with their latest offering, ANX. Vessel had glimpses of glitchy Zavala beats and Onry Ozzborn’s twisted wordplay matching up perfectly, but didn’t quite hit the mark over the course of an entire album. ANX is a logical follow-up to Vessel, and much welcome considering it downplays the cons of its predecessor while improving in almost every way.
Zavala handled the production on ANX and right from the psychedelic jazz opener “Hosanna In The Highest” it’s clear that he’s improved. Multiple portions of Vessel featured production so out there it swallowed Onry’s lyrics completely, but here the vocals and production fit seamlessly together, Zavala complementing whatever mood Onry is moving towards. Scene stealing appearances come courtesy of the usual suspects, including an always-poignant P.O.S. on “Overlordian” and 2012 tour companion/fellow rap weirdo Aesop Rock on “Take My Hand”.
When all the gears click perfectly into place, it’s really hard to ignore Dark Time Sunshine, even with the piles of great hip-hop in 2012. Whether debating the roots of cool on album highlight “Prairie Dog Day” or the psychological bender of closer “ANX”, Onry and Zavala are inching closer and closer to something really incredible. But that’s the best part here; even though ANX is a great record in and of itself, I still think Dark Time Sunshine is a group yet to give us their best work.