Published Jan 09, 2015Even after calling it quits last year, Death Grips are still finding ways to confound listeners both musically and mentally. In anticipation of the release of Jenny Death (part two of their double-disc effort The Powers That B), cryptic tweets and surprise music video releases have whipped the outfit's fan base into a frenzy. The latest surprise offering from the noisy Sacramento trio is an instrumental record titled Fashion Week, made up of 14 beats all titled "Runway," with a cryptic naming convention that adds a single extra letter at the end. With those letters spelling out the recent meme-fuelled hype cycle's burning question, "Jenny Death When?," Death Grips' faithful are dead set on cracking the code behind this new collection.
While not as album-oriented as their past efforts have been, Fashion Week functions well as a beat tape through the diverse range of influences that Hill and producer Andy "Flatlander" Morin and have chosen to explore. From the driving, fuzzed-out rock of "Runway N (2)" and "Runway H (2)," to the danceable grooves of "Runway D" and "Runway A," these seldom-traveled musical paths result in captivating experimentation. There is still more than enough trademark grinding electronic work present on "Runway E (1)" and "Runway H," while the closing dub wobble of "Runway N" may throw some for a loop.
Hill's live drumming is much more pronounced than on past releases, with his recognizable abrasive, hard-hitting play style shining through on "Runway E (1)" and "Runway W." The noticeable absence of MC Ride's commanding roar will no doubt be a point of accessibility for those just discovering the group's music, though it would be a welcome way to liven up some of the more drawn out, repetitive instrumental moments.
Some believe the record will serve as a soundtrack to an upcoming film by drummer Zack Hill, while others seem convinced that these might simply be a collection of unused instrumental fare. The release of Fashion Week still raises the question: Will Death Grips fully return to action in 2015? Whatever the answer may be, this eclectic, experimental crop of beats moves the mysterious group one step closer down the runway to their purported finale in style. (Third Worlds)