Gangrene – Vodka & Ayahuasca (CD) (2012) (FLAC + 320 kbps)

Posted: 19.01.2015

It might say something about the way things accelerate these days that it already feels like Gangrene have been around for ages. But tracing their lineage back through last year’s Roc Marciano collaboration Greneberg and 2010’s Gutter Water brings up a still-recent origin point in the Alchemist’s 2009 all-star blowout, Chemical Warfare. The precedent for the collaboration between Alchemist and fellow producer-slash-MC Oh No was strongly established on cuts like “Acts of Violence” and “Under Siege”, a couple of cartoonishly sinister tracks that pushed indie/street crossover rawness into a no-fucks-given irreverence about how raw it actually was. If you want a quick-and-dirty idea of what kind of flag they planted, take into account that their equivalent of a funny-wigs “Sabotage” video was footage of them doing violent slapstick spliced into newscast tapes of the Rodney King riots.

So why does it feel like they’ve been around longer? Besides the fact that Alchemist and Oh No are veteran presences on their own– the “We Gonna Make It” producer meets the “Supermagic” producer would be a fascinating-enough odd-couple pitch– there’s been a lot of conceptual forward momentum at work in their last two-and-a-half years. If Gutter Water dragged the grimier tendencies of underground hip-hop through a dysentery-infected toilet party and Greneberg was Marcberg’s weirdly invigorating hangover, then Vodka & Ayahuasca is a stab at drunk-psych nightmarishness that runs on slasher-flick suspense. Throw in a bit of weirdo grossout comedy– the intro track has one of the nastiest clips of someone puking I’ve ever heard on record– and you’ve got a good indication of a couple of artists trying to outdo themselves in the outrageousness department.

How much they succeed rests on how well these two fuse their production styles, and Alchemist’s knack with stoner-friendly, vaguely arena-rockish loops, recently exhibited at its best on Curren$y’s Covert Coup, slots in well with Oh No’s affinity for age-caked lo-fi detritus of obscure origin. Dirty-sounding guitars slash through “Gladiator Music”, “Dark Shades”, and “Drink Up”, and with their churning riffs draining the cathartic payoff out of their old acid-rock contexts, what’s left is a scraping, growling squall. Pianos and synthesizers are dragged shuddering out from the basement and worked into nerve-twisting loops, giving “Top Instructors” and “The Groove” a forceful tension. Basslines and breaks stay heavy and crisp, even through the most weeded-out doom-tempo trudges, while “Flame Throwers” and “Odds Cracked” in particular have enough bounce in them to keep a front-to-back listen from getting bogged down in murk.

That atmosphere helps hold up Vodka & Ayahuasca’s sense of anarchic, altered-state unease when the lyrics don’t quite cut it, though the tolerable-at-worst punchlines and metaphors are easier to stomach the less dead-serious you take them. Alchemist’s badgering flow is self-assured and self-aware enough to give even his clunkiest lines an “I meant to do that” affability, turning his Marmaduke namedrops and organ-trafficking threats from corny to actually-kinda-funny. (It helps that when he’s on, he’s on, his paint-huffer odyssey on “Auralac Bags” in particular.) Oh No’s technique is standard-issue Left Coast abstraction, prone to its share of attention-getting moments for internal-rhyme wonks, and when he takes the reins there’s some tightly-wound phraseology to dissect.

But the most memorable lines either come from guest spots– Kool G Rap and Roc Marciano flat-out repossess “Gladiator Music” and “Drink Up” respectively– or the found-sound clips about hallucinogen freakouts and belligerent arrestees that provide the most unhinged moments. No matter– if Vodka & Ayahuasca is worth listening to, it’s not an easy equation of lyrics versus beats. What’s crucial is that it feels like an album-length distillation of that moment in a horror movie where the suddenness of a character’s death is overtaken by how exaggeratedly gruesome the aftermath is.


01. Intro (The Mixings) (1:09)
02. Gladiator Music (Feat. Kool G Rap) (4:38)
03. Flame Throwers (2:49)
04. Drink It Up (Feat. Roc Marciano) (3:24)
05. Auralac Bags (3:32)
06. Vodka & Ayahuasca (2:59)
07. Dump Truck (Feat. Prodigy) (4:50)
08. Due Work (3:23)
09. Odds Cracked (2:21)
10. Top Instructors (3:14)
11. Dark Shades (Feat. Evidence & Roc C) (3:33)
12. The Groove (3:08)
13. Livers For Sale (2:00)
14. Outro (The Downsides) (0:53)


FLAC – Wayshare

320 kbps – Wayshare

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