album review – MindsOne’s “Pillars”
By Brian Tucker
Local hip hop group MindsOne has released its latest album Pillars in a variety of formats via Ill Adrenaline Records – digital, cassette, CD and coming in July on black vinyl and a limited run of translucent blue. Pillars is also engaging in that it’s both an EP of new music and an instrumental EP with a single remixed song added.
Produced by Kon Sci of MindsOne and Kev Brown and Sam Brown, what MindsOne has done with Pillars is essentially given listeners two albums in one. Bookended by brief instrumentals (“Inauguration” and the hypnotic “Commencement”) as prologue and epilogues, side one of Pillars is five new tracks along with a throbbing (and John Carpenter inspired) remix of older MindsOne song “Legion of Doom.” Side two features the songs as instrumentals only with vocals removed and highlighting the EP’s smoothly layered music.
Feeling energetic with a need to blast music? Take the statement on the album’s reverse side artwork and play it loud as possible. Feel like soothing music with solid beats? See side two.
The concept for Pillars is smart. As two albums side one turns the music upside down once vocals begin. The other is straight ambiance – laid back music that highlights the prowess and thinking of its creators. For all the relaxed qualities of Pillars it maintains a subtle ominous quality, be it surly keyboards or lyrics about loyalty, striving to keep moving forward, and the threat of mortality.
The new songs are experienced not unlike the lyric “clarity is a porch light’ as Kon Sci voices on “Equinox,” sounding off about the threat around the corner. For every moment on Pillars where an upbeat, fun quality can be heard there’s something just underneath the surface to be conscious of. The track “Nightwalkers” boasts hypnotic vocal delivery – punchy and deliberate. The song moves steadily with quick-snap percussion and saxophone playing drifting in and out like an image faltering in a dream.
“Manipulated” is slippery, a stand out track on the album. Built on tricky, slinky sounding music, the track hops around scratchy beats and kinetic keyboards. Manic and fun alike, it shuffles and dodges like a boxer. The title track is designed as polar opposites – smoky, sultry vocals that recall French House artist Kavinsky and gentle keys are set against relentless vocals by Kon Sci and Tronic.
Pillars is available at Gravity Records and Yellow Dog Discs online with a limited run of 100 copies of cassettes and 100 copies of the transparent blue vinyl