Magnolius Ode to Hyde

Magnolius Ode to Hyde

Depending on your viewpoint, the nifty packaging for this debut CD from Toronto hip-hop duo Magnolius (of the Soliva Spit Society) could be a brilliant attention-grabber or just a big pain in the ass. The jewel case comes inserted in a thick, brushed steel case with their name engraved on the front; it also weighs a ton and may not fit in many CD storage units. But it’s about the music, right? Rappers Serebral and Noizulli "rip through some issues,” sticking to down-to-earth subject matter despite abstract, artsy titles like "Autumn.Eighted,” "Destrjoy” and "Utter the Sun.” The two work well together and are more than competent on the mic but they are outshined by the beautiful production, provided primarily by Mike Denheyer, who opens the album with some dark sounds that morph into a reggae rock instrumental before switching gears into some sunnier boom-bap hip-hop. From there he tends to keep things light and lively, utilising plenty of change-ups and what sounds like live instruments. The two beat exceptions, one from Arthur McArthur and the other from Alibi, continue to fit this mould. The highlights are "Heroin,” "Love Therapist” and "Icarus Park,” although the nearly 40-minute Ode to Hyde works well as a total package. (Independent)