Album Review: dälek – “Asphalt for Eden”


Okay, let’s get a few things out of the way here from the get-go. First off: hip-hop cred. As a white boy from the South, I have none. I like what I like in the world of hip-hop and the rest I basically ignore. Come to think of it, that’s exactly how I choose and listen to music of any genre. So if you’re concerned about any of that, there it is. Take my opinion on this record however you will.

Moving on to point two: apparently there have a been a few folks who have gotten their undergarments in a twist over the fact that dälek (pronounced “dialeck”) are releasing this new album on Profound Lore, a label known mostly for their metal output. Sorry to break it to y’all, but clearly you don’t know much about these guys if this is enough to ruffle your tender BRVTAL feathers. dälek spent a lot of time on Ipecac and also released a compilation/rarities album via Hydra Head. I doubt they give much of a damn what you think about where/how they put out their music.

If anything, their past/current musical partnerships should give you some insight into their overall sound and vibe. Asphalt for Eden is one potent track after another, featuring some of the best experimental hip-hop I’ve heard in a while. For my money, rappers like P.O.S and crews like Doomtree are at the top of the heap for this sort of thing… and the new dälek stands proudly right alongside of them.

This whole album is about creating atmosphere and a headspace to get lost in. These guys absolutely nail it. The grooves and beats are deep enough to fall into, while MC Dälek’s flow is confident and rock solid. DJ rEk’s turntable work is topnotch and Mike Manteca (who co-produced alongside Dälek) contributes powerful samples and effects. It’s a rich, rich soundtrack that demands multiple listens.

If you want to get a visual sense of how they express their particular brand of hip-hop, just check out these videos for three of the seven tracks on Asphalt for Eden.

And that hook for “Masked Laughter”? How awesome is that, right? I don’t care if you’re a metalhead still clinging to the idea that all genres need to be pure and separated… that loop makes me bob my head just as hard as a jesu song might.

If I had to pick a personal standout track here, I might have to go “6dB.” With all apologies to MC Dälek, I am a complete sucker for instrumental hip-hop songs. And as instrumentals go, it’s a fairly simple construction. But it’s dark, atmospheric and vaguely reminiscent of some of UNKLE’s earliest works. I could put it on repeat and be completely happy for a couple of hours.

The album closes out with “It Just Is,” a brooding affair wherein MC Dälek ponders where we’ve come from and where we’re going from here. Commenting on media, culture and the lies we willingly buy into, it’s haunting. Life just is what it is. So if you’re in a contemplative/fighting mood, join in and check out Asphalt for Eden. I’m stoked that dälek is back. They’ve made one of my favorite albums of 2016 thus far, of any genre, period.

– Jeremy Hunt

Asphalt for Eden is available on April 22nd via Profound Lore. For more information on dälek, check out their Facebook page.

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