Friday, May 20, 2011
Album Review: Saul Williams - Volcanic Sunlight
Saul about Saul right? ok that was bad but thankfully this new release by political hip/hop artist Saul Williams is very cool and incredibly interesting, Saul is not your everyday hip/hop artist, with the man delving into poetry, writing, acting, voice acting and obviously music. He also looks to explore Electronic, spoken word and the obvious hip/hop he seems to have used all his interests and mashed it into one big piece, the outcome is not only really interesting but also very, very powerful. This of course isn't his first album but in fact his fifth release, with his self titled release, his debut album Amethyst Rock Star and The Inevitable Rise and Liberation Of NiggyTardust! are all great albums in there own right.
Now the album opener has a little bit of everything, starting with an open word piece we get thrust into a explosive drum beat with the beat made fuller thanks to the help of African "noises" to make a totally strong start. This combined with Saul's beautiful voice, piercing lyrics and small hints of electronic ideas we have the beginnings of not only a strong album but evidence of a great song. The African theme is very strong early on this album something that I'm really diggin, small bells, tambourines all sorts of little pieces that go with a not so cliched drum beats makes this really cool and very alternative to your average hip/hop album.
The beats on this are probably my favourite bit about this album, they really over power everything else on this and while that might seem a problem when you're essentially dealing with someone with political ideas in his lyrics, the beats are just way too cool to turn away from. The singing by Saul is a little understated but still holds its own greatly, the track Triumph is a great track to use as one that is definitely vocally a lot stronger, while the beat is fun it takes a back seat to allow Saul to say what he wants to say. The inclusion of an electronic interlude even small in this track really breaks it all up nicely to allow the track to flourish, the electronic "noises", solid rap pieces, soulful singing and strong beats are what is carrying this album really.
I do however have a problem with what is going on in this album, while the beats are incredible early on, Saul seems to move away from the African influence later in the album and look further into electronica music, which takes away from what I really enjoyed early on. The album is just under an hour which isn't too long for a hip/hop album, but I kind of got a little over this by the end, the change of direction in the way things were going is definitely a reason. Finally the one song that I really didn't enjoy was Girls Have More Fun which reminded me of a really bad N.E.R.D. song with Kofi Kingston from the WWE singing, seriously it was that bad.
Overall this is still a strong release, definitely something worth at least one listen, hopefully you like it as much as I have, the beats should keep you interested, while Saul has incredibly interesting lyrics and a strong voice to portray this.
Overall Rating: 8/10