Infinite Livez vs. Stade: Morgan Freeman's Psychedelic Semen
If being musically adventurous, purposefully annoying, and mildly funny meant a great album, the second collaboration 'tween Switzerland's Stade and the UK's Stephen Henry would be a tour de force.
I am sure I'm not the only one who is finding the career path of Infinite Livez rather annoying. Born with the unassuming name of Stephen Henry, he turned more than a few heads with his sexually surreal 2004 debut Bush Meat. The thoroughly provocative lead single, "The Adventures of the Lactating Man" even went so far as to upset some bikini models who weren't properly prepared for the video's money shot. But as lewd and racially charged as the humor was, the album was equally intriguing with other bizarre Dadaist lyrics that put Lil' Wayne to shame, and unerringly abstract yet melodic beats. It showed a great amount of promise and left fans wanting more.
We didn't heard much from him for a few years, until Art Brut Fe De Yoot appeared in 2007 to little acclaim. Steven had hooked up with an experimental Swiss jazz-glitch duo known as Stade (or Cristophe Calpini and Pierre Audétat to their parents) and they collectively pushed Livez's sound even further into ultramodern reconstituted field recording weirdness. Though quirky and subtly obscene as ever, I found Livez's lyrics became less engaging and seemingly more random over haphazardly assembled, improvisational yet repetitive instrumentals. The line between weird, for the sake of art, and annoying, for the hell of it, had shriveled.
The second Infinite Livez collaboration with Stade thankfully takes a few woozy steps back to the spirit of Bush Meat and generally continues along its avant-garde path. Morgan Freeman's Psychedelic Semen is more one-take downtempo electro improvisations, with greater emphasis placed on found sound hip-hop which generally lends a noticeable structural understanding. "On Illusion" is based on warbling tape vocals, a rubber fart, and a crow call, with a little piano, atmospheric synth, and warm sub-base over a sluggish beat. I think Stephen mentions being ill and peeing in a teacher's face, but it's hard to follow much else in his two verses there. He seems to be running on stream of consciousness throughout the record, so the theme is as confused as the album title.
Along with an upright bass, skipping percussion, and a nice organ, one of the main sounds of "Clapped Out Datsun" is either a table saw turning on or some big hydraulic lift getting down to business. Its sister track "Brand New Datsun" starts off promising with a vocal beat, cascading harp, and moaning feminine loop. It doesn't much change for the entirety of its five-minute length, though.
Overall, the album sounds like it was better planned than its preceding collaboration. The samples and synths have more distinct character and Livez's rhymes seem marginally less forced. It's generally more accessible across the board. That said, for a Dadaist record this absurdly unique, Morgan Freeman's Psychedelic Semen is not as memorable musically as its title, as much as I like hearing "Swaggamuffin" interpolate the melody from Hot Butter's "Popcorn" while Stephen requests, "Please don't kill any people after you listen to this part of the song. It's just hip-hop." It's twisted and funny in a next level Steve-O kinda way (the Jackass star has a rap mix out, in case you care), but this record simply doesn't stick with you, not like Bush Meat still does. It'll pass through your small intestine in about 27 hours. There's no shame in sitting down and planning out where you want a track to go and writing down a few lyrics in advance. This record sounds like a few guys got high and started pushing buttons and recording farts. As such, we are still waiting on Stephen to live up to his early promise.