The New Law is a couple of producers from Seattle making some inspired instrumental hip hop that stands out a bit from the crowd. Never heard an album of theirs and they seem (relatively) like an unknown on the scene as of yet.
The absolute first thing you will notice about the album is simply the DENSITY of everything - the layers of sound, the production, the influences and inspirations coming from every which way, the delicate combinations of sounds and unorthodox instruments.It definitely hints at (but doesn't fully commit to) a maximalist leaning, kind of a strange offering from this particular genre. The New Law uses a smorgasbord of different styles and effects - hip hop percussions, dubstep-ish bass, faded horns, droning synths, lilting strings, Spanish guitars, various other electronic manipulations - but it never sounds too chaotic or out of whack, in fact just the opposite. It sounds cohesive and purposeful, the sounds working together to achieve a brooding and suspenseful, yet soulful feel. They also pull no punches, and show you exactly what they're up to and what they're all about starting with the first song, 'I've Seen Some Mean Faces.' They then dive right into showcasing their electronic chops. The track that follows is a somewhat longer song that never feels like it drags on but instead keeps introducing fascinating aspects of their style, with tortured and unfamiliar vocal snippets, intriguing use of synths, and most importantly intricate and detailed beats.
The album feels like an experiment, first and foremost. It sounds like a greatly varied album that puts its hands in a great number of paint cans to see what they can make, all the while fleshing out their specific sound. The third track, 'Get Your Gun', begins on a softer and lighter note before being rapidly propelled to a pulsing groove. 'Voyage' begins with a piano ballad that launches into what can only be called a dubstep drop, never losing the unique elements present in other songs. 'Constellations', I was pleased to find out, could have easily been mistaken for a song from someone like Knxwledge, or lifted straight from Collections 01 from another very talented beat wizard. Soon I hear tribal drums that immediately bring Fever Ray to mind, while the title track is a furiously punching electronic rhythm powerhouse. I'm surprised at how many different distinguishable styles can be assimilated and tweaked to a new perfection.
None of this is to say that the experiment is a strict success, as the album has a few minor missteps that are pretty hard to ignore. A cheesy swirl effect that just feels like a cop-out, akin to being distracted from 4th of July fireworks because someone lit a sparkler nearby. 'Get Your Gun' goes a bit overboard with the frantic horn doing the brass equivalent of 'noodling'. The seventh track, 'Opium Den', has a small mandolin melody that nags at me because it sounds more like a synth than a 'real' instrument, which spoils the enjoyment just a bit. Overall these are not enough to tip the scales in a negative direction as it never detracts from the complete song - indeed, it's simply more to explore.
The Fifty Year Storm kind of takes how my album experiences usually go and flips them backwards. I (and a lot of other people, I think) tend to 'see the big picture' for the first one or two listens, and if you continue on you begin to notice details, effects, and idiosyncrasies that may have passed you by upon first inspection. But the first thing you notice about this album is the level of detail and the many different sounds to concentrate on, so LATER is when you get a grip on the main melodies and directions of the songs. After multiple listens the songs seem simpler than they really are, maybe. ('Nest Of Hornets', I'm looking at you.)
The album is hard to pin down, and I enjoy that about it. I may be slightly biased, as I tend to enjoy varied albums that don't stay too long in one place. It's a valid entry into any instrumental hip hop collection, and despite it's few shortcomings, leaves me curious as to the future of these talented young men. One last thing that I think is worth mentioning is that this album has them busy carving out their own style and specific sound, yet doesn't take any daring steps into trademarks. By capitalizing on variation, it capitalizes on nothing, in a way. It might be doomed to obscurity by virtue of being a decent, respectable album in a sea of decent, respectable albums, but I'm going to keep an eye out for these fellows.
Here's a sample.
Here's the album. (320) (re-upped)
Here's the last.fm.
Here's the bandcamp.
Decide for yourself.