In their Model Home work, NappyNappa and Patrick Cain blur the line between assertion and destruction. NappyNappa is a koan maker, embracing cryptic lines and repeated hoots in his solo work as the group’s rapper and MC. Cain drops sheets of metallic whirring, providing a hammering, uncomfortable electronic backdrop for his partner’s esotericism. Their music has its own language and its own referents, drawing as much from the missionary zeal of Lee “Scratch” Perry as from the destructive power of the firmament of Khan Jamal. Drum dance to the homeland; listening is like being sucked into a vortex of popping beats and horns. You won’t understand every word, but that’s not necessarily the point. What the noise and the words generate is an area of ââdifficult misunderstanding, unexplored ground. On their last album, both feet in e infinity, the duo embraces the propulsive movement, isolating the rhythm that has always centered their work and drawing on a new physicality.
both feet in e infinity highlights the precise pulse that lived under the dystopian energy of Model Home’s 2020 compilation One year. The distended production of the “Night Break” opener is reminiscent of the big bass drum hits and sultry brass of Dinosaur L’s Paradise Garage classic “Go Bang”. Over it, NappyNappa utters various phrases, basking in the haze of a warped nightclub as he enunciates his lines with the tenacity of a motivational speaker. The tinkling piano, the synthetic zaps and its enthusiastic exhortations trap you in the canvas of the song, forcing you to compose with the complexity of each part. “Crux of Et All” begins with the type of motorized bass one might associate with the experimental hip-hop of Madlib or Dr. Who Dat ?, while NappyNappa barks and harmonizes over its tangle of traps. There is something vaguely exciting about the way Model Home adapts this idiom to its style; it’s like watching someone attempt a series of increasingly improbable tricks on a broken down vehicle and being surprised when the car actually starts.
While nothing on this record is easy to listen to, there are some insights to be learned from its fractures. Model Home scatters Mantronix-style hi-hats and piercing sounds, keys that function much like tambourines and shakers on a spiritual jazz record; they are there to announce the excitement that musical improvisation can inspire. (It’s not for nothing that NappyNappa begins “Crux of Et All” by ordering, “Shout for joy.”) “3D Printed Quinoa” is easily the most abrasive track on the album: NappyNappa’s voice is constantly modulated up and down, and Cain overlays a heavy, mosquito-like synth buzz. Even when the telltale vibrations of a deep sub-bass surface towards the end, the movement it invokes feels organic. By pricking you with what hurts, Model Home calls for concentration, hardening your ears but not so much that you disconnect before things click.
While they flirted with dance music to songs like One year“Damn Disco 99” and their remix album with Pure Rave, the overt kinetics displayed here is a recent development. On âBody Power,â NappyNappa is in toaster mode, moving the crowd with their words and voice simultaneously. Over a dizzying twinkle of piano and bass drums, he cries out on the potential of the body as a vector of liberation. He is finally joined by other voices, who cry out in unison, “More power in your body.” The phrase may seem simple, but Model Home digs through the trash collected from the phrase and finds something – old or new – that produces an intense reaction. Their songs aim to awaken the senses blunted by overexposure, and their refusal to satisfy immediately can seem exhausting. Yet there is a purity in their provocation; by putting your senses to the test, both feet in e infinity generates new pathways for hearing and movement.
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