[1 August 2012]
PopMatters Associate Music Editor
On the heels of, Attractive Sin, their great collaboration with Del the Funky Homosapien, Drum and Knowledge—the pair that comprise Parallel Thought—have teamed up with producer/rapper Caness for the mostly instrumental The Art of Sound. If they were a foundation for Del’s rhymes earlier in the year, here the two are front and center and show us a much more modern, chilly sound. You get occasional throwbacks like the ‘90s-banger thump of “Suspended Animation” or the slow-jam space of “Purple Onion”. Mostly, though, these are edgy, of-the-moment beats that downplay the funk and soul of Attractive Sin for more spacious, electronic elements.
Though there are guitar solos, what you’ve got mostly are simple beats with quiet but complex layers on top of them. From the skittering keys on “The Canopy” to the shuffling shadowy sounds of “Swamper”, The Art of Sound is a great atmospheric listen, one that seems unrelentingly dark. But it also seems like an album unsure of what it is. It hangs in mid-tempo and the few guest appearances from rappers—including Caness—are hit or miss. Some of the vocal tracks feel like they’d be better instrumental, while some instrumental tracks feel naked without vocals. It’s an uneven set, but it’s still got its share of strong moments. Though not their finest hour, The Art of Sound still reminds us that Parallel Thought is a production duo to watch.