I’ve been known to enjoy some hip-hop from time to time; nothing is better than some good beats bumping through your speakers or earphones. It gives a little swagger to your step if you’re walking through the city, or some extra swerve to your curve if you’re cruising through those same city streets on a skateboard.
Tunnels: Season One is an experimental hip-hop album that dropped by Alex Silas & The Subterraneans on the 30th of June, 2016. These cats hail from Ottawa and are working on becoming a household name. The very first thing I noticed about the album was that all of the instruments were done live, as opposed to using samples and beats. I love this. It’s great to hear. Not enough hip-hop artists do this, in my humble opinion.
The album blends the sounds of some of my favorite artists quite well. “STΔRS” starts with a beat reminiscent of Sage Francis. True to its name, it’s a slow, spacey vibe perfect for making out with your significant other, or cat. The vocal flow for the opening stanza seems rushed, however, much like Alex Silas is spitting out mud along with his rhymes. It’s a small thing to nitpick, but in hip-hop, flow is God, even if “…Slug told me that God loves ugly…”
“Champagne” sounds like it would be at home on any Classified record. That’s a huge thumbs up in my books. I think that these two artists should tour together. During this song, flow is not a problem. It’s tight and on point. I enjoy how the song starts low-key with some keys being tickled. When the vocal tracks kick in, there is the all-encompassing sound of the organ behind it, on top of the aforementioned keys. As the song progresses, each instrument is slowly added in and mixed to perfection. When the hook hits, I have serious doubts that you won’t be bobbing along with it. Shit, I broke three computer screens with my head just writing about this song.
As mentioned above, they are an experimental hip-hop group. Some of those “experiments” don’t work, however. I, for one, am not a fan of the hook in “Hypnogogia.” It’s a trick taken out of Linkin Park’s playbook and to me, that’s where it should have stayed.
The song “Macau” hits all kinds of strange chords within me as well. It’s a song that doesn’t have any discernible pattern. It wanders and meanders through the straight forward to the uppity bizarre. It’s 5:08 minutes of some sort of oddity. I can’t put it any other way than that.
I gotta give some love to the rhythm section, however. Drummer, Matt Robillard, and bassist Jordan Robert-Graydon are phenomenal throughout the entire album. From the sublime bass runs to the double tap kick work on the bass drum, everything is phat and sturdy. These two know how to take your hand and guide you through an album.
All in all, I enjoyed this record. It’s a refreshing, albeit sometimes strange, take on the hip-hop genre. I can only hope that these cats will get the respect and acknowledgement that they deserve. At the very least, they’ve won over one new fan. It’s the little things, after all.
Written by Aaron Deck
*edited by Kate Erickson