Death Grips have become an entity synonymous with organised chaos, both in the studio and in everyday bureaucratic life. Having released The Money Store to critical acclaim on the Epic label, the art-punk/hip-hop/noise act decidedly went a little off the rails. What occurred was possibly one of the most mundane sequence of events ever witnessed in the music industry. The band had a sophomore release on Epic (No Love Deep Web), but opted to release it independently of their label weeks before official release, for free, much to the chagrin of their label. The icing on the cake? The album cover was nothing other than an erect penis with the album name written on it in magic marker. The label, understandably, dropped them. The band proceeded to announce live shows and not show up, leaving their musical equipment on stage for fans to destroy, which they promptly did. Government Plates (released exactly 13 months, 13 days, and 13 hours after their album prior) sees Death Grips in their natural element, unrestrained and unpredictable. So much so that this LP was sprung on the industry unbeknownst to most major publications. Such industry manipulation and childishness would be completely reprehensible under normal circumstances if it weren’t for this release being undeniably good.
This does not mean that this LP is overtly accessible (it is not). It is, however, much more developed and structured, thus making it their most accessible release since The Money Store. Once again the band manage to mesh a myriad of genres and styles in order to service their chaotically caustic needs. House, dub-step, hip-hop, punk, and (most shockingly) ambiance come together to form an amalgamate smorgasbord of fascinating sounds that serve to entertain for the most part, and grate only temporarily.
What most surprises me about every Death Grips release is the seeming ease with which they genuinely catch me off guard with almost every single one of their musical transitions. The rhythms are almost IDM in nature, the synthesizers frolic between lush and sibilance-laden in a fiercely mercurial nature. Zach Hill’s spellbindingly innovative punk drumming integrate perfectly with the electronic placement of Andy Morin and the two of them manage to make Stefan Burnett’s maniacal ramblings sound cohesive and prophetic. The trio have managed to make post-apocalyptic rave music for an end to a world only they see. It is this singular thinking that I dislike at times.
Where tracks like ‘You Might Think He Loves You…’ and ‘Whatever I Want (Fuck Who’s Watching)’ perfectly exemplify the organised chaos I adore, songs like ‘This is Violence Now’ and ‘Birds’ do not sill well with my ears simply from an aesthetic point of view. There is only so much someone who appreciates experimental music can take, I take a particular stance against the track ‘Birds’. It seems they have managed to somehow give me a personal “F**k you” as well by making the track I despise most their lead single. There are parts I genuinely enjoy, such as the odd guitar riff that is accompanied with a rather intriguing drum pattern and near nonsensical lyricism. However, I despise the track whenever that wailing, screeching, death wail of a synthesizer makes an appearance which is ever so annoyingly often. If nausea is what the track was supposed to make me feel, it succeeded.
Government Plates is still music that is very much deserving of several listens and can be downloaded completely free from several sites that they endorse (I still have no idea how they make money, maybe that’s why Burnett never wears a shirt on stage). I look forward to how this band manage to distend and contort the music industry further.
Government Plates was released 13/11/13 on Third Worlds