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 Baracuda72 Tetragammoth LP

Given how the debut album from Freestyling drum & bass emcee Baracuda 72 Uses some Futurological jargan for the title And then opens with some radio footage of a guy explaining how he’s sending out signals to entice aliens, the expectation is for more of the same search-engine cut&paste lyricism about futurology as his labelmate Noah23. Well, as “Baracuda72 launches into a series of clunking retro rap/d&b hibrid tracks, the characteristic out-of-this-world verbal overload typical of all Plague Language releases to date appears to be in full effect. However, with tempos often significantly lower and lyrics more spaced out over beats, Baracuda72’s work is significantly simpler and therefore easier to grasp on first audition than that of Noah23. Furthermore, his emphatic spitting of scientific and mystical terms about hieroglyphics in freestyle-form brags over often ungainly tracks of unquantised drum beats suggests that Radioinactive and Phoenix Orion would be closer models of comparison than Baracuda’s labelmates. There are similarities but Baracuda and Noah are two sides of the same coin with two opposed aims. Whereas Noah23 voyages into the final impressionistic fronteer between abstract language and fully internalised thought, Baracuda72 is more interested in exploring the liminal region where abstract thoughts and dreams begin to crystalise into coherant ideas and narratives in the material world. For example, the tranquil arabic chanting and beat of Waking life moment ( continually threatens to burst into a frenzy but never does) as Baracuda clings to memories of a dream. Picking up where Quicksand’s rare moments of lucidity and embrionic narratives left off, the shivering violin loop of Ice Age casts Baracuda as a prehistoric hunter walking his prey to death across the Canadian tundra – but then the (very telling) implication is that the listener is as much the hunted as party to the hunter.

Unlike the work of Noah23 and Orphan which sounds precision engineered, Baracuda72 junglist and freestyle origins come through because tracks tend to be crude, untidy and needing to first build up a head of steam before they get interesting. There’s the rumbling, hulking call to arms The pattern that lies beneath us where Baracuda represents for his crew over oriental sounding samples, pointing out “it’s about time heads need to get up and focus and stop dreaming of hopelessness” amongst all the quasi-mystical battle posturing. At the other extreme, there’s the high-speed junglist rap Human development where super-scientific babbling is peppered with patois. This project’s unpolished vibe is initially refreshing but gets annoying when tracks lack shape to the extent of the noisy nonsense of Royal city chainsaw massacre where words and drums are flung at the wall in the hope that something sticks. In the absence of overlapping transitions and more crafted switch ups between often sluggish drum machine tempo changes, the hiphop:jungle join begins to unravel with very few repeated auditions. Emceeing and beats may often snowball, there’s never any fully engaging build up of tension nor any fully satisfying freakouts.

Baracuda 72 doesn’t do all this alone. There’s a gang of labelmates and fellow D&B emcees along for the ride but at times they’re not the ones in tow. Deadly rays (featuring Noah23) starts with a b-movie film clip before launching back into more retro hardcore jungle-rap vibes with an instrumental built on a phase. Unfortunately, those tracks where Baracuda collaborates with Noah and his peers expose a growing divergance in not only style and aim but also quality and skill. When Baracuda is joined by Noah23 for Dental plan to shout distorted rhyme-driven free-association rubbish at each other, the contrast does notgo in Baracuda’s favour and makes him look like the second-string guest. Tetragammoth rarely rises far above average but the album does plummet to reach the utter pits with Snap where shouty raps are garbled over a ludicrously dated arcade-influenced instrumental. Sad truth is, there are plenty of British acts who still cling to the delusion that it’s still 1990 and that they are on the crest of a new wave of raps over high speed beats. It’s an OK album but I prefer artists like Tes, New Flesh and Phoenix Orion who’ve already done this bionic mongrel Boom-bap better.

- Sumo Kaplunk | profile

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