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Matson on Music

Music news, concert reviews, analysis and opinion by music writer Andrew Matson.

March 31, 2011 at 8:32 AM

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Seattle's Metal Chocolates: delicious psychedelic hip-hop

Posted by Andrew Matson

Metal Chocolates, L-R: OC Notes, Rik Rude; photo by Tyler Soverns / Rabid Child Images

"Glass Elevators" by Metal Chocolates

Seattle hip-hop music has been branching out into different genres in recent years, and inside that general broadening is a vaguely psychedelic thrust, with a handful of groups having a sci-fi or dreamlike aesthetic.

Key players include Champagne Champagne, THEESatisfaction and top-ranking Shabazz Palaces. Now it's time to add Metal Chocolates to the list, the nascent duo comprised of producer/vocalist OC Notes and rapper Rik Rude.

Metal Chocolates' debut self-titled album comes out in waves, starting Friday, the same night the group plays Neumos on Capitol Hill, with Truckasauras and Viper Creek Club.

The most experimental tracks on "Metal Chocolates" are "Pioneer Square Powder" and "Grand Theft Audio," adjoined mood pieces that thrust the listener into a jostling junkie throng, and a frantic episode of "COPS." The former is a dense audio collage of people coughing and sniffing. The latter finds Rude breathlessly narrating a car chase over fast-paced hand drums. By the time those are over, the sleepy guitar of the next track "LFL — Looking For Love" is a welcome respite.

Far from your typical rappity-rap experience, "Metal Chocolates" is inspired by the grimy bustle of downtown Seattle's Pioneer Square and, among other things, the weird utopia of Willy Wonka and the "Chocolate Factory" films (perhaps the inspiration for the duo's name).

Wonka's world figures into the title of the hypnotic "Glass Elevators," and the duo intersperses movie dialogue throughout the album. The 12 tracks incorporate radio theater, stream-of-consciousness soul and loosely arranged rap music into a fusion that doesn't attempt to explain itself, it just is.

The best song is either "Opium of Love," where OC Notes channels Mos Def's jazz-mumble singing style to lusty effect, or "Afro Egypt," a throbbing soul-house number that seems to occur in a darkened aviary, birds chirping, shadows flitting. On "Afro Egypt," Rude raps about kingdoms and eagles in a style that seems like free association, but with too many syllables not to have been written out before. He then rhetorically asks, "Breakers in the building: have you seem 'em?"

The image could mean hip-hop was there — if you saw it.

"Metal Chocolates" will be released gradually, with 100 gift boxes available at Neumos — including a "Metal Chocolates" download, cassette tape, and various art projects such as custom gold chocolate coins. Official online and vinyl albums are planned for next month.

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