Album Review: Onoe Caponoe ‘Voices from Planet Cattele’

Onoe Caponoe Voices from Planet Cattele

Production is the make or break point for hip-hop and rap – especially due to the prevalent disregard for lyricism looming over both genres. Luckily we have the likes of Shabazz and Freddie Gibbs (ambassadors of their respective genres) providing a gauge on which to measure new artists looking to task new directions where lyricism can function outside of old school beat schemes and modern beats can properly house immaculate lyricism. Besides what seems to be the difficult task of melding past sentiment and modern production without sounding trite, hip-hop has been battling an amorphous listener base. The changing fan demographic has enticed acts to shy away from the foundational topics and elements that initially propelled the movement. Fewer and farer between, acts are deliberately not talking about issues of oppression either in the form of positive resilience/hope or retaliation, a-la NWA and more recently Vince Staples – see “65 Hunnid”. In coping with limited dialogue few acts have excelled at rebranding the tired, alcohol-drugs-sex narrative while others have instead decided to hone in on old school beatsmanship and develop a concise delivery. Beyond rehashing diluted techniques and direction, brave acts have decided to chase down the ever expanding universe illustrated by the spaced out stylings pioneered by MF Doom and perfected by Shabazz Palaces and Flying Lotus. This is where we find London based Onoe Caponoe – with barely one toe in these murky waters. In no direct comparison to the previously mentioned artists, Caponoe attempts to find his way around lackadaisical subject matter and what I would consider to be applause worthy – I mean standing ovation worthy – production.

Onoe Caponoe excels at compressed sci-lo-fi hop production incorporating a vast array of interesting and unexpected samples, “Lord of the Light” is reminiscent of an 80’s movie sunset, the slanky sample choice and sterile bass pulse feeds the burning nostalgia it sets out to create. The use of space created by pads allowed to sit in the back of the mix allows the rhythmic nature of the album to keep everything interesting and true to form. Tracks like “Horses on the Hill” show that Onoe’s influences do not stop with hip-hop artists as the piano in the second half of the track sounds more like an indie bands attempt at creating a stylish, out of nowhere bridge. Each track hosts an entirely different approach from pace establishing live percussion in “Space Bitches” and “Disappearing Jakob” to the trotting progress in “Space Jungles of Cattele.” Onoe Caponoe uses dynamic sound sources to cultivate the appearance of a genre-less work – allowable and sitting at the higher end of decent.

Voices from Planet Cattele does not lack lyrical prowess, “lost in the dark, where I seem to think clearer” Caponoe explaining how the darkness of space can eliminate external chatter. Although this is one example,  lyrically it does not always hold up – often falling into monotony of basic rhyme scheme and played out subject matter. Overall, the biggest aspect limiting the ability of the album are the misogynistic overtones, tracks “Space Bitches” and “Goth Bitches” sell short the impalpable production work within each track. Lastly, Voices from Planet Cattele is a delectable work, with few but pertinent short comings, leave here knowing that with tact and awareness Caponoe’s best work is yet to be heard.

 

Keepers:
“Lord of the Light”
“Moon”
“Disappearing Jakob”
“Peace to the Godz”
“Paint Your Body Gold”

 

-Rob Leonard

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