Album Review: Brzowski & DJ Halo – “Wichitah”
To coincide with Brzowski and DJ Halo‘s “Boltcutters to Infinity European” tour, they put together a tour-only CD, called Wichitah. It was a 6-track EP, that featured one new song (“Bottom Falls Out”), an old song (“Harbinger”), those two instrumentals, and two DJ Halo remixes of Vinyl Cape songs (“Notes From Baudelaire” and “Famine First“). However, on my birthday (March 10th), they stripped the instrumentals (leaving those on the physical tour CD) and released the now 4-track EP for everyone else to hear via Bandcamp. I mean, it wasn’t put out for my birthday, but I can pretend and think it was a gift bestowed upon me, right? Nah? Okay.
“Bottom Falls Out” was created specifically for their “Boltcutters to Infinity European” tour and it’s served up luke-COLD. When I listen to the song, I hear a lot of shots at corporate media, money-hungry authorities, and government control over the public (“Corporate juggernauts and info-warriors turning profits from unease // Invest in fear, make the long con on anxiety“). Delivered in a sense of urgency, Brzowski’s verses are fueled by paranoia and a healthy concern for the unprepared “sheep” of the world. His lyrics are jam-packed with pre-apocalyptic imagery and a bit of social awareness, as he accurately describes the anxiety-ridden emotions, over-the-top fear that’s instilled daily by the media, and a doomed future. Except, Brzowski… he (and Halo) won’t be the one holding the bag, when it all goes to shit. The hook: “When the bottom falls out Iâ€™m a giant among lemmings // When the bottom falls out Iâ€™m a herculean obstacle // When the bottom falls out Iâ€™m a threat to security // When the bottom falls out I wonâ€™t be left holding the bag.” DJ Halo’s beat is synth-heavy, with a looming bassline and clapping snares, and it falls into the industrial hip hop label, which matches it with the apocalyptic feel of the whole song. Super dope song! “Let it rip, let the walls of the Alamo come crumbling // Live on the edge of a tectonic example, shock and awe from numbness // I donâ€™t need a helmet yet, tinfoil or otherwise reflective // My thoughts are there for the NSA to extrapolate from // My taut nerves are ground to smithereens from… dust.”
“Harbinger” was originally released as a promotional single for the “Spooky Sunburn” tour, when Brzowski and Halo went through the West Coast of the states, back in 2013, and is said to be a live staple since. So why not throw it on this EP, right?! Much like the rest of the album, this one could easily be a soundtrack to a futuristic/sci-fi thriller movie. The electronic beat experiments in dark themes, with shape-shifting snares, a growling buzz, and warped vocal samples, which goes well with Brzowski’s sinister raps. This is a song that’s kind of a knock against filthy rich people whose lives revolve around parties, getting wasted, getting plastic surgery, and spending their parents money frivolously. That, and those who overvalue materialistic items, and whose lives are consumed with technology and how many likes they have on their selfies. All from the standpoint of someone on the outside, looking in on this faux-perfect, epitome of “cool”, members-only jacket-wearing club that he’s not allowed to be in–nor does he ever want to be a part of. I LOVE Brzowski’s way with words; the way he describes things in his storytelling lyrics makes it so easy to picture in my head. “Harbinger” is honest, twisted and teeter-totters between being horrific and dreamlike (The Stepford Wives [the 1975 version, of course] comes to mind when I hear this song, is that weird?). He creatively mocks the things that people view as being important. The word “Pareidolia”–defined as a psychological phenomenon involving a vague and random stimulus being perceived as significant–is used in this song’s chorus, and it is so on point with this whole song. Another great one.
Halo’s remix of “Notes From Baudelaire” is about 30 seconds longer than the original. He remixed it by stripping the guitar shredding, adding some slick percussion, a gun-cock sound effect, and leading it with dark, bold horns. I loved the metal vibe that the guitars brought to Vinyl Cape’s original song, but Halo’s leaning-more-towards-hip-hop edit is just as cool. He also seems to have tweaked Brzowski’s vocals to feel more full, and less raw-sounding (if that makes sense). I also like that Corina Corina‘s voice on the chorus soars louder. Wheeeew, sooo good! Although I liked the original a lot, I like this one a bit more! The overall sound bumps from my speakers harder and bigger, and fills up my bedroom (or wherever I am) better.
While Halo’s remix of “Famine First” keeps its ominous vibe and monstrous bells, he turns up the volume, adds in the right amount of scattered snares and distortion to make it just as good and gnarly as the original. I’ve listened to this song several times, over and over again (well, I’ve listened to this album for hours on end!). Tell me Brzowski’s villainous, grizzly voice doesn’t get stuck in your head, while you sing-a-long: “DRAG YOUR FACE ALONG THAT ROAD // TRADE THOSE MAGIC BEANS FOR 6’S // STIR THAT POT, YOU LONELY SOUL // ALL YOUR VICES, EASY FIXES.” All caps, because that’s how it has to be done. Halo proves to do an excellent freakin’ job at remixing Vinyl Cape songs.
That’s it, folks. Hopefully this gives you some incentive to take a listen, if for some reason you’ve been putting it off. Stream and download for free, or throw some money their way via the “pay what you want” option.