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The Money Store
Although it’s arguably the most intense cut taken from an album of borderline-violent intensity, ‘Hacker’ still stands out as being perhaps the most beginner-friendly starting point to the post-apocalyptic hip-hop aneurysm that is Death Grips‘ major label (I repeat: major label) debut LP The Money Store. Standing as the outfit’s closest approximation of a dance floor number, with its gut-slicing rhythms and just-about discernible chorus, the track also forcefully introduces you to their hyper-confrontational and anarchistic approach to sampling and arrangements – beats collapsing from under the song for split second periods, jangling guitars joining in for a bar, rhythm provided by heart-shattering bass, and rapper (in the loosest sense of the word) Stefan Burnett’s abrasive mixture of social commentary and unfathomable gibberish (“NOW WE’VE GOT ALL THE COCONUTS, BITCH!”). It’s noise pollution at its most exhilarating and, like the album at large, a complete fucking mess. And I’m still not a hundred percent sure if I mean that as an endorsement or a criticism.
‘I’ve Seen Footage’ offers up a similarly invigorating take on bringing noise-experimentalism into contact with booty-shake rhythms and direct chorus refrains – a song which leaves you no brain-space to work out whether that warbling noise running through it is a synth-gone-wrong or a guitar-gone-fucked as it batters you though the back alleys of its nightmarish Salt N’ Peppa landscape. But these high-adrenaline moments with maybe-in-another-lifetime pop crossover appeal, like the scratched up keyboard/female vocal sample which sweeps in to enrich the chorus of ‘Hustle Bones’ – are the exception and not the norm on The Money Store.
Instead, this is a record interested almost solely in giving you tinnitus and reminding you that life is fucked – and not necessarily in that order. The opening clutch of tracks in particular are a real swamp of murk – chopped up vocal samples and weird clashes of fidelity, sporting oddly compiled rhythm sections comprised mainly of noise, and little drum patterning. On initial listens, it’s a hell of a lot to take in, and you might not make it all the way through in one sitting. On your fifteenth listen, it’s a hell of a lot to take in, and you might not make it all the way through in one sitting.
Ultimately, dribbling out five hundred words (along with a few teeth) in response to hearing this record feels like a bit of a pointless exercise because, as many people are already pointing out, The Money Store feels like a genuine game changer (liable to spawn enough shit knock-off acts to potentially make Death Grips feel old-hat even by the time they release their follow up later this very year). Not only does it challenge what major labels are willing to put out and take risks on, it’s a real throwing down of the gauntlet in the face of what people consider to be popular music in general.
The Eastern-flavoured absolute fucking chaos which ushers in ‘Punk Weight’, for example, isn’t going to get mistaken for a clip from the new Santigold record, nor are the heavier, more industrial moments going to call to mind last decade’s nu-rap/rock trends, despite their ostensible overlaps. The fact that reviews of The Money Store are mainly descending into that hopeless ‘make-your-own-genre-compound-word’ game which bloggers love to indulge in should be enough to persuade you that you should just experience this racket for yourself, because us journalists don’t have the vocabulary for it yet. They’re breaking new ground, and scorching the earth behind them. Listen, if you can bear it, and draw your own tangled conclusions.