...performs a strain of hip-hop about as far out on the peripheries as the genre gets.
Adam Webb 2005-02-23
With a track listing that reads more like a Captain Beefheart album ("Yawning Zeitgeist Intro", "Sphinx's Coonery", "Low Flying Winged Books") Regan Farquhar, aka Busdriver, performs a strain of hip-hop about as far out on the peripheries as the genre gets.
In fact, the label hip-hop may be too restrictive. Despite the play on the Public Enemy album title, Fear Of A Black Tangent is nothing less than a stream of cartoon consciousness that borrows from just about every section of the record shop racks. Farquar occasionally flirts within more identifiable boundaries (the Jurassic 5-like "Unemployed Black Astronaut" and the string-driven "Map Your Psyche"), but these cuts are few and far between.
Elsewhere things get a bit more random. "Happiness ('s Unit Of Measurement)" mixes drum & bass with the soundtrack to some obscure 60's spy flick, "Befriend The Friendless Friends" ushers in some music hall action, and "Avantcore" samples original Krautrockers Can. Imagine OutKast, or maybe Gil Scott Heron, if they toked hard on a helium-filled balloon and cut loose with their tongue.
Fortunately, amid the seemingly random tomfoolery there is definite method to the madness. Through disparate references to Calvin & Hobbes, Jean-Michel Basquiat, Daisy Duke, Pizza Hut, the World Bank, laser hair removal, Johnny Cash and pilates, a picture emerges of the independent rappers bittersweet struggle in modern day America.
This, it seems, it a great deal more complicated than his major label counterparts. As Farquhar notes self-derogatorily on "Note Boom": 'What kind of name is Busdriver? Is it just a wack allegory? And he cant be justified by any background story. I heard he sucks live, only appeals to hipsters who dress like Russian spies...'
Wracked by self-doubt he frets about not making money, racial bias, his fickle audience,the press and being a bleeding-heart liberal -all concepts unlikely to be explored on the forthcoming 50 Cent joint.
It's furiously funny stuff, and consistently challenging - resulting in an album that requires multiple listens before its genius sinks in.
As such, fans of generic hip-hop would be advised to stay off this particular bus. But if it's trips of another kind you're after, get onboard.