18 December 2013 (ACDSleeve)
Anonymity has become a recurring theme in music. Different levels of it exist throughout all genres, from never seeing Daft Punk’s faces to some artists who literally never appear in public, give no name, and provide no background as to who they are. The mask is the favored form of obscuring the lines between the artist and a musical persona. It provides a visual way for the artist to represent him or herself while also keeping their personality separate from the performance. A few notable mask wearers of recent times, apart from Daft Punk, are MF Doom, SBTRKT, and even Flying Lotus in his come out show as Captain Murphy.
A mask does not make or break an artist, but it normally allows for a more artful interpretation of the music apart from the creators of it. That is what Ceiling Demons achieve with their, well, demon masks. The creative designs look like they could have been based off of Diá de los Muertos or aboriginal masks, but a certain level of individuality still lingers with Ceiling Demons. A mask is the free ticket to judge on first appearance, and luckily for the Ceiling Demons it paid off. The black and white faces embody the music they create.
The identical twin brothers, Psy Ceiling and Dan Demon flow over Beat Demon’s production weaving tales of elevated thinking and being “higher than the ceiling.” Hailing from Yorkshire, the largest county in the United Kingdom, there is no hope in deciphering which twin rhymes when. Their voices are a thick layer of monotone swathed in a Yorkshire accent. Regardless, they still attain more feeling than a majority of the rappers out there. Harsh emotion protrudes through, especially on “The Mirror’s Image.” The vicious song of heartbreak and losing trust sees the MCs emotional to the point of breakdown. That is a rare occurrence in hip-hop, and the Ceiling Demons should be commended for it. Their message is not necessarily unique but it is far from the negative messages of rap that have become the norm. Their topics range from being the person you want to be to self-hate. There are no filler songs without meaning; each one has a specific meaning or message.
The production is a huge part of Dual Sides. Beat Demon seeks inspiration from classics like Nujabes and DJ Shadow, but ends up using a much wider range of sounds. At some points the production feels alternative more than anything. The catchy single “Every Step Is Moving UP” features a prominent pop like sample with a hip-hop backing drum track. This song is the perfect example of Beat Demon’s hands touching the production. It does not feel like he is trying to sound like anyone else here, his own voice has already started to shine through. The diversity goes on and on. “Weight Of The World” is an exceptional instrumental interlude with a piano and synth setting up the mood for the crushing closer “Heartstrings.” The final song uses orchestral samples that do achieve just what the title says, to pull at your heartstrings.
Ceiling Demons have developed their own voice, that much is apparent. But can they really be considered one of the pioneer voices in hip-hop? Having performed alongside Young Fathers, it is a possibility, but one that will solidify with more time. Dual Sides is an impressive début but Ceiling Demons still have the feeling of a brash new group. If anyone has the potential to soar it is these three young men.
Rating: Liked It