Release Date: Jun 3, 2008
Record label: Lex
Over the course of their last two albums – 2003’s drifting yet focused A New White and 2006’s furiously frantic For Hero: For Fool – the Anticon-affiliated sextet Subtle crafted a surreal narrative of fictional rapper Hour Hero Yes. The first took naval-gazing into a beautifully abstracted place, constructing a free-flowing associative musical and lyrical narrative that remained buoyant and effortlessly engaging while remaining locked within its own self-constructed world. It took hip-hop’s ability to subsume any style to a quiet extreme – a multitude of genres made into a single distinctly personal one.
Review Summary: All those kids who flipped a bitch about "Alopecia" by Why? are going to flip at least five bitches over "ExitingARM".With the slowly rising popularity and relevance of anticon. the hip hop collective formed of many assorted “faggy” backpacker (mostly white) rappers, it seems only fit that one takes the time to look at Doseone. As a member of Themselves (along with ‘Jel’) Dose has kept himself busy recording well over ten albums worth of material over the past 10 years with projects such as cLOUDDEAD, 13 & God, Deep Puddle Dynamics, and his current mainstay act, Subtle.
Taken out of the context of their albums (including 2006's For Hero: For Fool and 2004's A New White), the disparate elements of Subtle are uninviting and hard to grasp. (I saw the Oakland sextet perform in Madison, Wisconsin, and frontman Doseone menacingly paced the stage, rapping -- over electric cell0 -- to a skull he was holding, and feigned like he was going to throw blood on the crowd.) To truly appreciate the power of this band, you have to let yourself completely enter the world of rapper-heroes named Hour Hero Yes, where beats are nonexistent but atmospheric synth-romps are plentiful, where all musical styles are there for the taking, and where prose takes precedence over hooks. A world like ExitingARM, Subtle's solid third album.
Always cryptic, always intense, avant-hip-hop band Subtle once again present a complicated picture of society on ExitingARM. Doseone's high, nasally voice acts as the guide through the band's twisted landscape, leading his audiences into convoluted passages and bridges from which only he can get them out. There's so much happening lyrically, and what is being said is so dense, that it's hard to pick much out, but the occasional phrase -- "do you relax to which your death is a fact," "and you wait in your window, for found to come find you," "the last of mankind will have no instruction," "someone's hard-to-find bird head collection," "what sort of armor can the average man arrange inside of him?" -- does poke through from time to time, making itself known.