Meanest Man Contest/ Languis

West Coast electro-shoegaze outfit Languis took its already compelling sound to towering heights last year on the mysterious, electronically enhanced stoner pop of Other Desert Cities. For Split, their shared platform with Bay Area leftfield hip-hop duo Meanest Man Contest, Languis apparently developed the medicated-drone end of what comes out of their rehearsal space. Instead of fleshing out the ambient, splashy moments on their previous work, these four at-bats are mostly stripped down: "Gulp" offers little more than vocal percussion, and would work better as an in-betweener on a realized full-length, while "Lullaby" is a beauty, its haunting chorus melody and lyrics ("Today I'm here for my revenge") begging for the embellishments of 2004-era Languis. Meanest Man Contest producer Quarterbar crafts clever sample-based backdrops that loom in shadowy stop/start buzzes and distant strings ("Sorta Sad When You See Them") or in dissonant bleeps and beat tumbles ("There's Nothing There"). When MC Eriksolo packs up his abstract and sometimes grating flow, the productions get a little more welcome attention. "They Do" is one such example — its serene loops and jazz drum break are dressed in comforting vocals from Mixel Pixel's Kaia Wong; it shouldn't be any other way.

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