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Willie Isz Georgiavania Review

Album. Released 2009.  

BBC Review

A duo propelled by the desire to do something different with each track.

Alistair Lawrence 2009

A duo who seem intent on turning Dirty South hip hop stereotypes inside out, Willie Isz have wasted no time gaining comparisons to the likes of OutKast and Gnarls Barkley, which is shorthand for the fact that they don't really sound like anybody but themselves. Growing out of the same Goodie Mob kernel that gave us Cee Lo Green and signed to the same label that issued Danger Mouse’s Dangerdoom and DM & Jemini projects, it’s clear that they are kindred spirits, though. Oh, and OutKast’s Big Boi is a fan.

Still, Georgiavania deserves to be appreciated as a unique entity, given the amount of imagination and effort that’s gone into creating it. In the titular fictional state, elasticised psychedelic beats accompany heavy breathing flows into oblivion. The hissing, clanging score of Blast Off might be a (deliberately) uneasy first footing, but it doesn’t take long for the skittering, chopping keys of the title track to recall one of the RZA’s more experimental moments while we’re taken on a woozy trip around an otherworldly cityscape. After that, Loner sounds like a Joy Division cover, all compressed vocals and minimalist, synthetic backing track. Just in case we were getting comfortable, presumably.

As they’re seemingly propelled by the desire to do something wildly different with each track, it seems hard to imagine sitting down and grafting a single; or, rather, a track so straightforward that it could be a used as a single. I Didn’t Mean To is an unapologetic soul song, followed on by the nursery rhyme-esque tinkling of U Want Some?, the pair only really coming unstuck when they try to crossbreed club-heavy hip hop with violins on Grussle.

This constant wrong-footing of the listener is what can make Georgiavania hard work and perhaps limit their appeal to anyone not prepared to devote themselves to two or three listens. Alternatively, they might have gauged people’s disillusionment with stale, staid genre tags just right and be embraced. They could even write a Hey Ya! or Crazy for the hell of it, possibly without even realising they’ve done it. Just not this time around.

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