Album Review: Ly Moula – “Avant Savant”
Somewhat similar to Finkle is Einhorn, producer Lyle Horowitz is rapper Ly Moula. Except, you know, he’s all man. We heard him channeling his inner rapper as Ly Moula as early as 2013, when he released the Blahze Misfits album As Fate Would Have It. We heard him rapping again on the second Blahze Misfits album that caught a lot of flack for its name, and also on my second installment of The Monsters Are Due On CrayonBeats compilation, released in 2014. However, this year is when Ly Moula decided to release his official debut album.
On November 9th, he released an 11-track album, called Avant Savant. Seven of the tracks were produced by Steel Tipped Dove, while the others were handled by Uncommon Nasa, Lyle Horowitz, Fifty Grand, and Lee. Guest features come from ComPL3xX, Georgie Lobstas, Andrew Frisby, Pizza Boy, Uncommon Nasa, and Elliott Niezel. The first six songs are produced by Steel Tipped Dove, and I think that the often unique, industrial hip hop beats are definitely Ly’s style, providing the perfect backdrop to his slow, spoken-type flow and somewhat abstract, dark lyrical content. The intro is… an intro. It really only reminded me of who he was as a rapper and a smidgen of what one can expect on the rest of the album (so it’s not necessarily counted in my rating here). Let me talk to you about some of the stand-out songs that I really like, though!
The beat on “You’re Mine Now” is swampy, taking you through the muddy trenches with a grimy, driving bassline, ticking hi-hats, clunky drums, and electronic sequels. You know what? The beat, especially with those robotic squeals, make me think about R2D2 when he’s stuck in the swamp on Dagobah. Haha, so fitting! Ly Moula’s raps here don’t seem to deliver as vicious as his guest feature’s–Ly’s presence is more of the calm before the storm, setting up the story’s scene, whereas ComPL3xX comes through as the main character as a verbal serial killer. So yeah, we got ComPL3xX (whom we’ve heard on songs with Ly before), who shines on the second verse, killing first and asking questions never. He has an aggressive growl in his voice, an energetic delivery, and his bars aim to strike fear in those paying attention (“You’re mine now, and that’s fine now // Killin’ n***** with a line now // Killin n*****, catching fines now // Hit a n**** in the spine now // Everyone is just prey to me // Everyone just pray to me // I mean, everyone just pray for me // Really, none of you are safe from me“). Super dope song, all together. You know what made me say “oh shit!” out lout, though? The moment that I heard ComPL3xX make a Darth Vader reference at the end of his verse, after I had already mentioned that Star Wars scene due to the beat. Yesssss!
“I’m Dead & I Know It” has a quirky, 8-bit beat that’s fun and finds Ly adjusting his flow to match with that of the bouncy beat, and it’s all very catchy. “My music’s for killers, and dealers, and poets,” he raps, slanging around crazy thoughts, creative metaphors, personal history that has led to being unknown and forever an underground artist (“Can’t fuckin’ wait to go stunt on my teachers // For lookin’ at me like a pathetic creature // The irony is while I’m up in the bleachers // I’m penning these lyrics to bump in your speakers // I’m dead and I know it // My ten year reunion, and I don’t think I’m going // I’m dead and I know it // Knowing the things that I shouldn’t be knowing // I’m dead and I know it // I’m under the ground // I’m over their heads, when they under my sound // I’m dead and I know it, and I’m under a cloud.”) This song makes me smile when I listen to it.
The industrial beat on “The Loose Cannons” is cool and funky, and the lyrics from Ly Moula and Pizza Boy match that same vibe. Good energy, good flow, good rhymes, good wordplay, and a damn good beat. Ly Moula two-steps in his Alligators, showing us some music that is fun and silly (and, okay, he may slip in some creepy moments, too). “Decayed innocence slip into my sentences // Remember this, got an automatic and forensic kit // You’re trynaÂ know the score, I’m tryna settle it // You tryna go to heaven, I’m so devilish // Twisted metal and an ink pen; think when // People used to think for themselves, now think friend // So many memories swept below the carpet // Might find a carcass // Monsters in your closet // Moula, Moula, why your music so dark // That’s like asking me why a dog barks // Life ain’t been a walk in the park // So when I depart, just say I had heart // Fuck it, go crazy in this muhfucka // Every other rapper lazy in this muhfucka.” I got a good laugh while listening to Pizza Boy’s verse, because he just goes wild with his story about bustin’ heads and crushin’ on girls that diss him (“Girl, I been sweating you profusely // You say fat chance, like the rapper on a plane taking two seats“). I liked his food and pop culture references (like the Harry Potter one – “No, I’m a Ravenclaw, but I’ve been acting Hufflepuff“). This one also makes me smile when I listen to it.
When I first listened to “Chaos Magick“, I was thrown off by the combination of the Uncommon Nasa-produced beat with their raps. The beat is, indeed, chaotic, as it’s layered with various percussive instruments with each at different tempos, alongside a looped vocal sampling of a woman singing and an interjecting horn honk that comes in occasionally. It was hard to focus on the rapping, because the beat was almost too distracting (not saying that in a negative way). It was like someone was yelling at me, waving their hands, begging for attention (the beat), while someone else was trying to talk to me about something intelligent that I needed to digest (the lyrics)… like, just chill for a minute! Hahaha, but after listening to this song multiple times, on repeat, it really grew on me. Ly Moula’s flow and voice sounds different on this song than any of the others; there’s an old school vibe and it pairs real well with Uncommon Nasa’s style. On this song, Ly hurls artistic and vivid bars at us, painting a dark picture that loosely depicts the pain he’s endured, conquering some inner demons, and the devotion to his craft despite those that want to see him fall (“I acknowledge every demon that’s inside of me // With the exception of the one that’s really guiding me // […] // My soul is atrophied // A rapping Johnny Appleseed // Who’s been through his fair share of catastrophes // Actually, the galaxy is just a fallacy // Shout out everybody, seeing beauty in the malady“). Uncommon Nasa delivers on this one, too, like a pillar of strength, pushing against his own fears and self-destruction, to come out on top (“I’ll be where I see the future, from many angles // Cast out the devils that speak to my angels“). Really great song, once you adjust to the complex beat.
I was pleasantly surprised by “The House That Dripped Blood“, because I didn’t expect such a beautiful, yet melancholic song to come after all of what I had just listened to. Dark lyrics were expected, yes, but hearing such an emotional version of him, over the somber melody of a piano was just… wow. I literally got chills listening to this one. Moula pulls up in a black hearse to reflect on life and the depression he’s been working through. Through emotional storytelling and a clear sadness in his voice, he highlights dealing with anxiety, depression, and trying to make it through each day, in the first verse (“Lately I’ve been looking for a purpose // But lately I’ve been hating on myself, feeling absolutely worthless // And happiness ain’t something that you purchase // Depression is the seed, and it’s coming to the surface // Welcome to the circus, save the lost children // They paint me as a villain when I walk into the building // They painted all the houses, dripping from the ceiling // And this is the life that they market as appealing // Musically, I’m dealing, capturing the feeling“). In the second verse, he talks about being different than those around him and being judged for it, but he rolls his eyes and shrugs his shoulders at close-minded people while adding in some humor about Drake and dick pics. It’s a really good song that shows us a more openly vulnerable side of Ly Moula. “Lately I’ve been feeling kind of manic // And lately every single thing I think about is driving me to panic // And why do people think that I’m satanic // Because I love a witch, and you dress like a mechanic // Musically pedantic, you should go and jam it // I look at other people like they’re from another planet // And yet they try to ban it, because they don’t understand it.”
Although I didn’t write about “Human Condition“, it was a decent song. “Jason’s Mask” was cool, too (I wanted it to be a favorite, but it just wasn’t, for as much as I listened to it). Those two got good scores from me, and didn’t knock against the rating much.
HOWEVER, the songs that I wasn’t really feeling were “Schnitzy” and “Eyes Without A Face“. The production on those songs were cool (both by Steel Tipped Dove), but the subject matter and overall delivery were lacking and I wasn’t moved by them in any way. “Blood Tastes Metallic” was just OK. The production was dope, because I really liked the paranormal-sounding samples with the heaviness of the trap-electro style, and I also liked the dark concept of the song, but the lyrics didn’t hold a lot of weight for me. I liked that song a bit more than the two aforementioned songs, but not enough to be a favorite. So these were the songs that were had the biggest hits on this rating. Stream the album in its entirety below, and then feel free to download it for free at either of the links listed (although, you can name your price at Bandcamp).
From Ly Moula, about the album:
“Avant Savant is the debut solo album from my rapping alter-ego Ly Moula. Although the progress on the album began all the way back in 2010, the shift from the prior iterations to the more aggressive, industrial-sounding version of the album that exists in it’s final form was birthed from pain, frustration and disappointment. This is late 2012, early 2013 post-Hurricane Sandy devastation pouring out on wax, raw & uncut. It wasn’t until I stumbled upon some beats from a producer named Steel Tipped Dove that the album really started to take it’s final form. I knew I had found a producer who’s sound perfectly scored the musical universe I was attempting to create. The backbone of this record is his production: 7 out of the 11 beats to be exact. Avant Savant also features guest appearances from Uncommon Nasa, Pizza Boy, ComPL3xX, Georgie Lobstas, Andrew Frisby & Elliott Niezel. Enjoy the record and stay tuned for the third BlahzÃ© Misfits LP, dropping Spring/Summer 2016. Thanks for listening.”