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I’m hyperventilating in the back room of the office, doing my best to hold it together despite the fact I’m pretty sure I just saw a goblin staring at me through the window. I’m on the 14th floor. I peek out from behind the cupboard, and the goblin stares at me and lets out a cackle.
Someone’s outside, I snap around to meet their gaze, they’re asking if I want anything? I’m pretty sure they mean like coffee or something, but I figure it’s worth a shot and I ask him for a gun instead. I can barely contain my surprise when he slips me one. Armed with both the weapon and a newfound confidence, I point the gun at the goblin out the window and fire. Its smile disappears, I can hear its panicked screams as it slips from the windowsill. I’m triumphant, the beast is dead. I let out a war cry, my victory is assured. My mortal enemy vanquished.
My colleague leans over and asks why in the name of christ I just threw my coffee mug at a pidgeon.
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I think I might be losing it.
Nothing is quite right. People’s mouths move without sounds forming, shadows don’t line up uniformly. The ground feels like it’s constantly moving, not enough to be seriously worrying, but enough so that if you stop paying attention you’ll end up face down on the floor missing a tooth.
This is Danny Brown’s Atrocity Exhibition. I haven’t heard such an off-putting album from such a popular artist in a very long time. Horns are blasted out of time, the drummer can’t seem to keep the beat, and I’m pretty sure I heard a guitar riff from that episode of the Mighty Boosh where they have doors in their heads. Danny is as off putting as ever, blasting lines about Kubrick and Spielberg at the same time as lines about coke and gang violence. But despite this absolute hodgepodge of noise, everything works so, so well together. It genuinely feels like a bad acid trip; it sounds like one of those crazy Ed Roth illustrations from the 80s where everyone is green and has those huge bugging out eyes and the misshapen hot rods. It makes me feel sick, and I love it.
But this comes at a cost. The entire album feels like this and, while I usually applaud cohesiveness and a dedication to style, I just feel kinda sick. And not in that “woah wicked sick far out dude” kinda way, in the “oh christ where’s the nearest toilet” way. It’s an exhausting experience trying to listen to the album from start to finish. Despite the fact only one song is longer than four minutes the album feels like it lasts a lifetime. There’s no breather on the album, no nice change of pace before bringing you back. This is Danny’s wild ride and there’s no getting off.
If you can stomach it this is an excellent album. This is what Rocky wanted At.Long.Last.A$AP to be, this is what Chance wished Acid Rap was. But it’s one of those albums that you’ll either love the first time you hear it or you’ll hate forever and ever, and it’s difficult to say which is the right opinion. In any case give it a listen, make yourself feel just a little bit ill, and decide if you like it or not.