Lazarush Sawm

Experimental rap artist Lazarush follows up Pali Ola, his 2007 debut of demos, with a more concerted effort that ups the quality of the recordings while simultaneously embracing a wider range of musical influences. The music is primarily electronic-inflected hip-hop, with a little taste of glitch, but most tracks also journey into other terrain, to varying degrees. Opening track "Sawm" (a play on the word "psalm" and a contraction of "saw him") is reminiscent of Tes, an underground MC signed to Lex about a decade back, which makes for an easy draw into the album. It's one of the few songs, along with "Sunset" and "Goodnight Irie," that remains mostly within the boundaries of hip-hop. "Fear of God" and "Mange" further incorporate country and jazz, respectively, into the mix, while "Sharks Grill" and "Scarlet" have the MC rapping over drum & bass beats. Lazarush would have a pretty solid EP on his hands if this was the extent of the track list, but unfortunately a couple of ballads knock it off course. "Sunrise" (a rap ballad love song with a drum and piano beat) can be excused, as it does add a bit more diversity to the album while still somewhat fitting the mould, but closing track "Frozen Fire" finds Lazarush singing (and sometimes sort of rapping) over acoustic guitar and some quiet, subtle beat boxing. It just doesn't belong and is even more obnoxious following "Goodnight Irie," a crazy, up-tempo song that's oddly sandwiched between these two ballads. Still, these small missteps aside, Sawm is a sophomore album of which Lazarush should be proud. (Little Whore)