Noah23 Quicksand

Noah 23's second independently released full-length, Quicksand, starts off soft and sombre with subtle orchestration on the first three Orphan productions, filled with acoustic guitars, strings and piano that cushion the hushed vocals. A slower vocal delivery provides more opportunity to examine the ways this Plague Language twister weaves his different ideas together in a style befitting author William S. Burroughs; not surprising considering Noah's "Octave" boast, "I've done acid three times in the last two weeks/so you might say/I'm on top of my game." "Octave," following the third track and lead single "Crypto Sporidian," is a guitar and bass heavy slow creeper that is the moment Noah quits being nice and starts kicking our collective ass. Especially when he gets all complicated, flowing over tracks that merge hip-hop with drum & bass, such as "Resistance" and "Banded Hairstreak"; watching him rock freestyles over a dark drum and bass set would make even Freaky Flow wonder why Flipside bothers? Unfortunately, Quicksand is light in exploring this new ground. Still, Quicksand can rock the parties ("Digestive Enzymes"), the dance floors ("Resistance"), headphones ("Hourglass") and the art fags ("The Fall") all while maintaining a cohesive sound. This is due as much to frequent production collaborator Orphan and a handful of perfectly suited outside productions from the likes of Troubadour, Lovely, Sseleman, Naval Aviator and Ognihs. Plus, Noah's production alter ego, Warhol, concocted the ragga-inflected anti-ode to hometown Guelph, ON, which features one of only two guest vocal appearances, in this case Baracuda 72, who should be releasing his own full-length soon. With Quicksand, Noah 23 may have released one of the year's best Canadian hip-hop albums; let's hope the Plague Language crew can maintain the momentum. (Plague Language)