The Infesticons, Gun Hill Road (2000)
The Infesticons is a side project produced and orchestrated by Mike Ladd, one of the leading voices in New York’s fertile underground music scene. According to the liner notes in the CD booklet for Gun Hill Road, they are “a Spartan people interested in ideas and the content of their minds” and “for generations they had fought to combat jiggyness and glamification with truth and the essence of the regular cat.” Participants on this project include Saul Williams, the Anti-Pop Consortium, Company Flow, and several other poets, singers and rappers. Their contributions prove to be as esoteric as the album’s sci-fi tableaux implies. “My beats are like molasses/Sweet and slow like Jackie Onassis/With Alzheimer’s/Social climbers/Slip on my diarrhea/MC’s sound the same like onomatopoeias,” raps Ladd on “Hero Theme” with a gait similar to Kool Keith. Elsewhere, Rob Smith raps on “Chase Theme,” “Bar codiac shreds in a trail mix taking refuge in the zodiac/Exploiting the point/You’re unable/Stature of matter is non-algebraic.” Gun Hill Road is willfully avant-garde, pushing the envelope of spoken word expression without regard to current trends. Much of it is reminiscent of New York City’s no wave scene, with an aural resemblance to old-school cats like Lydia Lunch, Material and a (then) electrified The Last Poets. Like that era, parts of Gun Hill Road make more sense theoretically than musically. For example, on “Chase Theme” Ladd switches beats midway through the track; although it is meant to add dramatic tension to Smith’s poem, it only adds to the confusing nature of his words. Ladd relies on an uneven yet hard-hitting synth-based sound that is less consistent than his excellent Welcome to the Afterfuture and isn’t as well executed. The Infesticons’ Gun Hill Road is a high-concept, if somewhat uneven affair. Certain tracks like “Hero Theme” and “Precious Theme” work; others like “Cave Theme” and “Tiger Theme” don’t. Big Dada.