By Dave Firth
Like a scratched Isaac Hayes record, the industrial soundscape of 19th century Manchester provided the sultry mood music to the conception of a new age. Spinning frames, steam engines and the howls of disfigured children; a sensual rhythm to which Karl and Friedrich thrust their swollen and throbbing dictations deep into each other’s minds. The hirsute lovers tangled like spiders caught in their own web of intellectual lust, it became impossible to tell where one beard stopped and the other began. Sometimes, Engels would pretend to be the proletariat, tied tight to the frame of his bed, while Marx played the cruel Mill owner. “Spare the rod and spoil the child, my dear boy,” he’d say, spitting on his hand. It was in this setup that they penetrated further into the concept than ever before. Distributing his warm wealth across Engels’ perfect oily body, inspiration struck. “I’ve got it,” he shrieked, “My best line yet… but what rhymes with ‘chains’?
Stains. The Capitalist bed sheets were well and truly soiled that day, leaving a mess the servants of the Imperial Machine are still struggling to remove. With all of this in mind, it‘s fitting that Dayse and Aver’s ode to our city is a reflection on the revolution that it helped to inspire. It comes in the guise of a hip-hop concept album- portraying a not so distant Mancunian dystopia. A terrifying cauldron in which brutality, surveillance and hidden menace meld to form a hellish urban penal colony. D&A have created a future every bit as vivid as the books and movies that inspired it; and in doing so, they have provided a powerful commentary of the present.
This debut is a soundtrack for a world in which many of us carry tracking devices in our pockets, willingly, like lambs unaware of their shepherd’s plans for them. Our midnight bus rides, blazed and bleary, are under the cycloptic gaze of countless security cameras. Dayse’s lyrics confront a society that has allowed the gap between the rich and the poor to widen, systematically removing the safety net from under those who lose their grip. References to social philosophers from previous centuries show him to be a well read MC, acutely aware of the Industrial Revolution’s parallels to the present.
Dayse and Aver
The beats laid down by Aver match the lyricist’s dexterous flow with a sonic syncretism the two have honed through years of performing in The Natural Curriculum. Opening track, Hell Is a City, is a statement of intent- over a haunting wall of synths a sample, sourced from the bowels of science fiction, warns the listener that returning to Earth is suicide. And right about then Aver introduces us to the Bass- lurching and stuttering and heavy as hell.
The EP’s strengths lie in its diversity, various flows and styles are fused seamlessly; from nocturnal jazz of Dark Matter to the MF Doom-esque psychedelia of 221120100. Human Zoo sounds like some kind of nightmarish Native Tongues production. Despite the nods to influences (some obvious, others less so), EP001 stands out on its own terms as a work of individuality and artistic integrity. Somehow managing to sound both old school and futuristic, Dayse and Aver have hit on something that deserves to be noticed.