(Copyright © 2021 Piero Scaruffi | Terms of Use )
Wilderness of North America (2008), 7/10
Spred Luv (2009), 6/10
Gen (2012), 6.5/10
Imagine Yourself In A Free And Natural World (2014), 7.5/10
Remains (2017), 6.5/10
Face The Darkness (2020), 6/10
Face The Darkness II (2021), 6/10
Catharsis Only (2023) , 7/10 [mini]

Texan rapper Michael "Blackie" LaCour (or B L A C K I E) coined a brand of hip-hop music inspired by punk-rock and noise improvisation that he called "trash-rap", starting with Wilderness of North America (2008). The tense, atmospheric narrative of Regrets of an Average African American Amateur Drug Lord emerges from a plethora of avantgarde ideas: the orgasmic impetus of That's Right, the booming industrial overtones of Big Big Joke Jokes and Is Still Alive, the tidal waves of distortion in Ox and Filter, the drum'n'bass chaos of Caught Lost. His rapping is frequently as elegant as terrified screaming.

Spred Luv (2009) increased the loud, brutal, brash and pounding sound (notably Stay Up and Nothing Stopping), with detours into the demented rigmarole (Lou Dobbs on My Knob) and chaotic noisescape (Living My Life As a Stereotype). Punk-rock brevity is evoked in ephemeral bursts of emotion such as Who Protects Us From You. Another narrative peak is reached with the exorcism-like invocation and the earth-shaking bass sound of Dope & Doper. The album closes with the most "regular" of his raps, My Window, which nonetheless probes sinister depths of neurosis.

After the six-song EP True Spirit (2011), which contains some of his most abrasive numbers, like the protracted torture of The Kid Who Tried to Cut Himself in Half, Blackie recorded a different kind of album, Gen (2012), on which he replaced the electronic beats with acoustic instruments (guitar and piano) while increasing the dose of distortion. Radiowave's Last Words weds insanely emphatic screaming, childish strumming on a piano and a sax fanfare. False Marriages and especially Selfishness Of Evil Men evoke deranged street singers in the tradition of Wild Man Larry Fischer.

The seven-song EP Fuck the False (2013) collects rarities, notably the agonizing and distorted Marathon Man and the subhuman chant Revolutionary Party Pt 1.

Imagine Yourself In A Free And Natural World (2014) contains only three compositions, each one a bleeding poem and each a duet with his alto saxophone and electronic sounds. Wings Blocking Out The Sun (16:31) represents his artistic peak. His visceral screamo-style vocals, that also mimic the ominous and suspenseful tone of Jim Morrison's recitation (the Doors), collide with existential saxophone melodies a` la Van Der Graaf Generator and dadaistic electronic grimaces. An austere declamation towers over a sparse beatscape before the piece collapses into a symphonic maelstrom and gothic screaming. The remaining abstract soundscape is roamed by Anthony Braxton-ian saxophone lines. The martial free-jazz of Like Snake (16:12) and the tribal and anthemic Cry Pig (6:38) complete Blackie's symbolic fresco.

Remains (2017) returned to a more traditional song format, but the songs are hardly traditional in spirit or shape. The overture, Numbers Not A Name, is a visceral, beat-less, guitar-driven burst of vomit. Academy Academy is a deranged, seven-minute merry-go-round. The zombie hip-hop of Run From Desire segues into the county-fair cacophony of Three Ways. There is despairing punk madness in Return To Control, and dense distortion in Position Targeted, and it all culminates with the six-minute jazzy psychedelic slumber of Turn You Off.

Face The Darkness (2020) indulged in the infernal circus atmosphere of Meet the Demons, the slow terror lament of Face the Darkness, the eerie piano decadence of Look Around, and especially in the dense, manic and claustrophobic atmospheres of There Is No Light and I Need to Be Alone, wrapped in thorny nebulae of sax lines.

Face The Darkness II (2021) continued the drift away from hip-hop music. Blackie's vocal style is now somewhere in between rapping and singing (and plain screaming), in particular in the emotional closer They Feed on the Living. The Foetus-style anguish of Suicide Blues and the relentless hysteria of Exit Simulation are only marginally related to hip hop. The music is simply a shouted concentrate of neurosis that the sax enhances in songs like Tired of Being Hunted. The rhythm is explosive in Closer to the Fire, which is basically a distorted industrial jump blues, not too dissimilar from what Von Lmo was doing 40 years earlier.

LaCour reached another peak on the mini-album Catharsis Only (2023), mostly devoted to short screamed desperate rants over abrasive dissonance and with no real beats. The songs seem to be recorded in the middle of the ruins of a still smoldering collapsed building. Deeply psychologically and sonically damaged "songs" like Still Got Love, I Needed you and Born Inside Excrement redefine what music is and what music is about. This is "visceral" the way the Germs' punk-rock was visceral.

(Copyright © 2021 Piero Scaruffi | Terms of use )