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Death Grips: The Money Store
As we edge closer to impending doom, it’s becoming increasingly difficult to come across something truly original. The lawlessness of post-modernism rules and all that’s really left is the tatters of the irrational, the illogical and the absurd – something that the members of California threesome, Death Grips, seem to have engrained in their spirits.
An attempted explanation of Death Grips’ second album, The Money Store, might feature an arrangement of the terms hip-hop, experimental, hardcore, industrial and, most significantly, chemical imbalance in the brain.
This is a project that owes all of its originality to the collaboration of three quite different musical practitioners whose shared anarchical values have brought them together to create something truly unholy.
Attacking their instruments as you would an enemy, drummer Zach Hill and versatile utility man Andy Morin are responsible for the aesthetics, but it’s the bearded, flail-limbed vocalist that gives The Money Store its soul. Stefan Burnett, affectionately known in some circles as MC Ride, is nothing short of a whirlwind. There’s not one song on The Money Store that doesn’t leave you feeling bowled over and, quite frankly, a little nauseous. But like so many comforting pills, you keep going back for more.
The first twenty seconds of opening track ‘Get Got’ tells you all you need to know; aggressive bongo beats are bridged to a distorted guitar loop and sharp drum-line by a monotone rap: "Get get get get, got got got got/Blood rush to my head, they hot like/Poppin’ off the f*ckin’ block knot/Clockin’ wrist slit now watch me top off" – the nonsense ramblings of a mad man, maybe, but the brilliance is in the fact that it could mean anything or nothing.
Songs like ‘Lost Boys’ and ‘Bitch Please’ have layers that are influenced by early Wu Tang Clan, while others such as ‘I’ve Seen Footage’ and ‘Hacker’ seem more suited to an edgy, effeminate, electronic indie-pop act but for Burnett’s charmingly unrefined raps.
Words like raw and primal don’t even begin to do The Money Store justice. Like the stages of grief, initial shock and denial quickly make way for guilt. It’s a dirty, grimy, angry album that becomes a guilty pleasure – guilty because at times it just doesn’t make sense. But continuing with the stages of grief, don’t be surprised to go through periods of reflection and maybe eventually hope.
Whichever way you look at it, The Money Store seems to have been conceived and executed in such a bizarre and ludicrous context that you feel like you’re on the outside looking in. Looking in on a loony bin, that is; one that’s disturbing, creepy and addictive in equal measures.
Album opener ‘San Angeles’ will get feet moving and booties shaking, but the rest of the album is decidedly more post-rock oriented. The influences of Pink Floyd only really make a grand appearance on psychedelic tune ‘Lunar Drift’, with its spooky synths and echoing bass line.
‘The Eliminator’ takes the listener back to the eighties again, as the repetitive electronic beat that is used sounds a lot like the 8-bit sounds that were the backdrop for many early eighties video games. Imagine the aforementioned desert wasteland turning 8-bit coloured.
The eighties also dominate in the strummed intro to ‘Martin Rev’, evoking memories of Survivor’s ‘Eye of the Tiger’. You’d almost think the guys of Maserati had wished they were making music a few decades ago.