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Tanner Babcock

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Year Title Rating
2014 The Misadventures of Solomon Grundy 3.5/10
2014 A Spike Lee Joint 4/10
2014 Burial at Sea, Rapture in the Heavens 5.5/10
2014 Splicer Stories 7/10
2014 asex-chaos 5/10
2014 Toon World 5.5/10
2014 Hard 6.5/10
2014 Henry Knollenberg & Newt Grundy - NoMy.Hard 5.5/10
2014 Cute 5.5/10
2015 Newt Grundy and the Cut Cuties - Toon Jazz Vol. 1 (1968) 6.5/10
2015 Newt Grundy and the Cut Cuties - The Future of Robots 6.5/10
2015 Gally 6/10
2015 Newt Grundy and the Cut Cuties - Pfister Hybrids 4/10
2015 hhhhppppnnnnnn... 6.5/10
2015 Newt Grundy 6.5/10
2015 Culture Chester - Real Men Don't Rape rape
2015 Spidercake - Spidercake 7.5/10
2015 Out West with Newt and Milk 6.5/10
2016 Grim Grape 7.5/10
2016 Rosie. Sharn 6/10
2017 No Milk of Rodent Kindness 7.5/10
2017 Spidercake - Spidercake II 8/10
2018 Culture Chester - Outer Baseball too much Adnan
2018 Foot Said She Was a Faerie 7/10
2018 Out Milk II Path to Violence 8/10

Review last updated: December 28, 2018


Out Milk II Path to Violence

It's difficult to use any of Newt Grundy's artworks, in any medium, to properly describe or illustrate the experience of knowing him personally, but his recent incredible hip hop-and-folk masterpiece mosaic does a pretty good job. Insane Captain Beefheart-esque streams of consciousness and fragments of absurdity, technical, but off-kilter and fleeting drums, intense layered classical guitar riffs played in obscure guitar tunings, and raw, angry, menacing and terrifying rap and lyrics, are a few of the prominent musical ideas present here. It even has a two-minute spoken-word banana improvised rap poem. I've known Newt Grundy for about 5 years now, and have been good friends with him for 4 of those. We made a couple of albums together in Culture Chester, and did the shows, and in the past couple years he's made appearances on my albums, and me on one of his.

When Newt Grundy lived in Canada, after the demise of the band Spidercake, he began his solo project, then titled North of Poet. The album of his that Out Milk II Path to Violence sounds like most is in fact, his very first album (long unpublished, disowned, abandoned) authored to North of Poet, Burial at Sea, Rapture in the Heavens. You see, Grundy's initial albums were made in Ableton, in combination with occasional use of guitar, bass guitar, and synthesizer. They used a lot of samples and post-production, and his earliest works existed in the plasma of ideas between IDM, instrumental hip hop, drone, noise, experimental, industrial. Like any young artist with a blank canvas of a discography, the earliest albums were usually near-effortless (sometimes brilliant because of this), but always hit-and-miss, usually leaning towards "miss". His last three albums, by stark contrast, were made entirely with physical, analog instruments, with very disciplined and strategic playing styles. All drums, synths, guitars, are live self-recorded instruments. He has done this with Newt Grundy and Out West, but his guitar-playing was not nearly as masterful as it is now, and those albums were largely synth-based.

Grundy as a person you know in real life is much different than the Grundy "character", the "persona", the public portrayal, the abstraction. After a long and hard artistic infancy, going through what the Newt has gone through, would leave anyone embittered, disillusioned, vicious. This aggression made from this, and the intoxicating inspiration found within social isolation and without mass approval, has formed a thunderstorm of creative chaos from the now 25-year-old Grundy. In the albums before Path to Violence, you have small infant ideas, although interesting and thoughtful, never really having the strength or substance to stand on their own. The lo-fi synth lullaby album Out West with Newt and Milk, initially over an hour and with 30 tracks, recorded all on a handheld tape recorder, is a notable approaching of original musical ideas. However the creative content was one-dimensional, one-sided, underdeveloped. I much preferred the sequel to Out West, the no-nonsense acoustic, technical, Americana country collection Grim Grape (which features me on like 3 songs, and Henry on most of them).

Between the release of the desperate, painful, difficult, almost pitiful Rosie. Sharn, an album full of broken-heart ballads played with technical mastery but vocal timidness, in October 2016, and the release of the acid-folk desert-cowboy-assassin No Milk of Rodent Kindness, in June 2017, Newt Grundy disappeared out west in the USA for several months. He survived busking on the streets, hitchhiking, doing hard drugs, living in the SUVs of cute girls, and living off of the grid in California. His music became loud, menacing, and confident, due to many style changes, but also due to his reality that louder music attracted more attention from passerbys and made more money. The weak-willed, half-hearted stutter lullabies of "Ingersoll Lullaby", "Endless Cake", and "Like You Like Toon" eventually turned into fiery, psychotic, dissonant yet melodic, acid Western folk of "She Wants Me to Kill", "Jesus Thorns", "Coon and Hair Pt 2". And that was the last any of Grundy's listeners heard from him, other than a compilation or a single, until a this October.

The musical direction of Newt Grundy has stopped on a dime and took off blazing into the unknown. Anyone who's heard any of his earlier work would have thought he was on the road to avant-country legacy, or outsider music at best, but now he's hit the ground running in a totally foreign music genre, doing things he's never done before left and right, and nailing it. Who does this besides Frank Zappa and Sun Ra? It's difficult to compare Out Milk II Path to Violence to any of the small handful of great "avant-hip hop" albums I listen to regularly (cLOUDDEAD, dalek, Atmosphere), not because it's such a unique and inventive hip hop album and it stands out in its genre, but because it's a unique, highly orchestrated and concentrated, heavy and high-quality technical masterwork, and it doesn't sound like really any other album in any genre.

It's just very stimulating, and very fragmented and recursive about its ideas, the whole album explodes in your face, and the experience is a trip through analog psychosis and red-hot musical aggression. The highlights of this album, in my opinion, are the sensual hypno-ballad "Bramble Baby", the thundering vicious death threat caricature "Blood in the Snow Ain't Red", the drunken half-awake mumble "Bauble", and the minimalist beatnik avant-lullaby "Flies in His Absence". Many tracks are split into two or three "parts", separated by abrupt shifts in musical flow, breaks, unpredictable stops, or digressions. The layering and arrangement of the vocals (including the background vocals with himself) is also very particular and unexpected, and it slowly creeps up on you in an atmospheric way. It recreates the feeling of jumping and being scared when you realize some strange person has been behind you for 10 minutes and you never knew they were there - which is fantastic.

But pretty much, the entirety of this thing is mind-blowing and awesome and I'm still not all the way over it. It's very clear Grundy has put more effort into this album than all of his previous albums put together. This album is innovative, inspiring, ahead of its time, it's fresh, and it's original <--- and that's something rare for the entire medium of music. I cannot recommend this album highly enough, and, fully knowing Grundy will release another great album next year that tops this one, I will say it's his best album to date.