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C-ORE Melissa Rakshana Steiner , September 23rd, 2015 11:46

Lucky for all of us, Mykki Blanco did not give up music to focus on becoming an investigative journalist as was reported earlier this year after everyone jumped the gun upon reading a frustrated Facebook post from Blanco. That said, I'd gladly pay a subscription to read about the world through the eyes of this iconoclastic punk queen. Mykki Blanco is an artist with many interests, none of which pander to the expectations of other people, so perhaps this is a plan still yet to unfold. Let's wait and see. In the meantime here is C-ORE, the first release on Dogfood Music Group, an imprint of Berlin electronic label !K7 Records, and the means by which Blanco will bring a range of underground artists to the fore who - like Mykki Blanco - transcend easy categorisation.

A compilation album featuring PsychoEgyptian, Violence and Yves Tumor alongside Mykki Blanco, C-ORE is a dark, dislocating, futuristic immersion into the Dogfood Music Group vision to 'disrupt the singular image of 'African American Music'.' As such, Blanco draws on the lineage of punk rock compilations rather than hip hop mixtapes, and C-ORE combines beat-heavy tracks with extreme noise terror. The album is accompanied by an 11 minute video directed by Jude MC, in which scenes of madness and torture are played out under pylons in dried-out desert lands and strobe-lit grimy city carparks, landscapes which reflect the sonic expressions of the album.

LA-based artist Violence, also know as Palmtrees Caprisun, opens C-ORE with 'This is going to be disgusting, unholy & pleasurable'. Layering ominous, ritualistic drone, like the memory of monks intoning in a cave, with demonic, distorted vocals, the track creeps eerily along, interspersing tension-inducing piano with a drawing-in as though of breath through a gas mask; the overall effect is ancient and alien. Later on the album, 'Saturn' recalls the highly strung beauty of Horse Rotorvator-era Coil, with Violence rapping over off-kilter chimes and sawn strings. There is a visceral imagery associated with these tracks; human struggle, life and death, rot and fecundity, sin and hopelessness are all depicted, themes that seem a continuation of the image on the cover of C-ORE itself: a skinless human body turned inside out to resemble something botanical and darkly beautiful.

PsychoEgyptian, a multimedia artist who has previously toured with Blanco, is first introduced on the album with 'LBCD'. Pairing a blown-out beat with a minimalist industrial skeleton, his relentless, urgent rap is hard-edged and made for squat parties and anxiety-laden sleepless nights. He contributes the album's closing track, 'Lullaby' featuring Slum Savage, a six and a half minute track of melancholic desperation, the dreamy, chilled-out synthscape contrasting with unhinged vocals daring you to "call the cops, I don't give a fuck".

Mykki Blanco's 'Coke White, Starlight' opens with attention-grabbing blasts of something like a ship's klaxon cutting a swathe through the fog. Then Blanco's confrontational, swaggering, sneering rap takes over, flowing and bouncing over an electro beat heavy on the reverb with a 'queers bash back' aggression as Blanco calls out those who "don't want to see a man in a dress succeed". Midway through, the song switches course, taking on a drugged and industrial club sound, with screwed vocals sounding bestial as the scene in an opium den is described. There is a nauseating wooziness to it which I can imagine giving someone a pretty bad trip if they heard it at the wrong time of night. Blanco's other track on the album, 'Paw' similarly ends like a person going under a heavy anaesthetic and the effect is mesmerising.

But for aural discomfort and a complete departure from the dance floor, look no further than Yves Tumor's 'Histrionic', I, II & III. Slices of white hot noise and frayed electrical cord static are punctuated in 'II' by human-sounding screams of terror, abruptly suffocated by a heavy, digital bass, thudding in like a small atomic explosion. The trio could be the soundtrack to a horror film in which human souls have become trapped in the Matrix. If it's not clear from my description: I love it. Juxtapose this with 'Childish', the other Yves Tumor contribution which is as quietly restrained as the 'Histrionic's are not.

The artists on C-ORE complement one another in that they share a certain darkness and an interest in digital experimentation, but their voices and methods are distinct, ensuring the album is defiantly unpredictable. There are talks of live shows in which the headline slot will rotate between the four and given that Mykki Blanco only has two tracks on the album, C-ORE doesn't feel like a vanity project. Rather it opens a window onto an underground community of black artists with a punk sensibility, and presents an alternative to the 'alternative' narrative bandied about now that the mainstream press has discovered the Afropunk festival (now in its 10th year and irreparably commercial). C-ORE is our initiation to the world of Dogfood Music Group; I look forward finding out what comes next.