Let’s get it straight. Music isn’t something that is necessarily made to be “reviewed”. Indeed, reviewers could be easily considered people who have too much time on their hands, who sit around and judge other people’s creativity. What’s the purpose of this? Music can do just fine without judgement, its true, but, at the same time, if something of interest happens to bounce its way down a would-be music journalist’s waxy ear canal, they have every right to respond to it, and they don’t have to justify their response, just as the musician doesn’t have to justify making the music.
With that unwarranted preamble in mind, we give you Project Smash. Project Smash is a full length solo LP digital musical creation by J.K. Phil Osé, and, by our estimation, it is his forth (?) full album of original material, with some other odds and sods kicking around out there as well.
Listen to it here on the most revered and yet irreverent of all internet platforms – Youtube.
Who Is J.K. Phil Osé?
J.K. has been associated with several other projects and what one might loosely refer to as “entities” on the Fauxtown Records label, which we will not be discussing here, as we would rather not distract you with in this review / overview. Your head might spin around like and fly off in total confusion if you heard what has gone on…
Anywho, if you are a fan of hip hop, experimental music, electronic music, low-fi music, or hybrids thereof, you might enjoy Project Smash, as it covers a lot of different territory in its 12 track sequence. J.K. Phil Osé is really no stranger to ch-ch-changes, as all of his albums thus far have been fairly diverse both musically and conceptually.
Project Smash – Concept Album?
The title of the album, Project Smash, might be, in itself, somewhat curious to the uninitiated with this artist. What *is* Project Smash? We shudder to speculate. However, if you listen to the subject matter on the album, some specific images or what you might call sentiments do start to come into focus, with outlandish musical backdrops setting the scene for matters of social imbalance, explorations of the self, philosophical querying, and a variety of other topics that emerge from the low-fi mists of blipdom. These ideas do somewhat support the notion of whatever is this “Project Smash”, in that the album, after a listen or two, does seem to suggest perhaps a breakdown or at the least an assessment of ego, like a person being broken down into pieces for study. Could this be the idea here? Only the artist knows, and he can’t be reached right now for comment.
Into The Music
Musically, each song has its own equilibrium, or a basic bed of tracks that the lyrical ideas sit upon. The music does range rather drastically in terms of mood and vibe, but it is somewhat held together by the beats, which are generally of a low-fi nature and somewhat old school, making the album feel both progressive and throwback at the same time, since the beats are old but the compositions are unorthodox.
Whether the song is dark and murky, or light and fun, most times Phil Osé is setting the scene for whatever the thrust of the song is lyrically, whether its about fidelity, miscarriage of justice, familial relations, friendship, etc. The music and lyrics do go together, as they were both masterminded by the same person, so it makes sense that they do mesh well. The origins of the music, we might add, are not always the brainchildren of Phil Osé, as some do seem to have other origins which we cannot speculate on at this time. The point being that although most of this album is J.K.’s doing, he does have some collaborators here.
We may as well mention Eminem at this point, since inevitably if you have a white hip-hopper guy come along, Eminem is the obvious benchmark for comparison. Two questions. First one. Is J.K. influenced by Em? It would be hard for him not to be, since J.K.’s first rhymes were created at the height of Eminem mania, so there is a correlation there for sure. Just some of the angst and the personal nature of the rhymes seems to have rubbed off, perhaps. Second question. Is J.K. even a rapper? It would be fair to say yes, since a lot of this album does seem to feature flows of rhymes, which basically is the main ingredient in hip hop, other than a dope beat that fly honeys flock to. That said, there is somewhat of a cadence that almost sounds more like spoken word at times, and there are musical inflections of reggae, electro, and other not-strictly-hip hop elements that pull this album in a million other directions. This is why, if you are listening to it, you need to be prepared to keep an open mind.
Notes On Production
It is no secret that this is not million-dollar-production. Interestingly, most bedroom-bound bearded bards often gravitate to soft acoustic music, but this particular indie release is more like basement-bred hip hop, as it is both low-fi, but still decidedly focused on song arrangement in a way that suggests more than Bon Iver style lets-record-an-album-with-one-mic-in-a-log-cabin.
The production here is somewhat ambitious, if only because the song arrangements are more elaborate, and it calls for some production to be done, to balance out all of the elements, of which there are many. When you need to make the synth sax sound good, you need to consider various things.
All in all, this album is worth a listen for several reasons, but one reason might be to check out how some artists these days are recording at home, and making it sound fairly lush.
That’s all we have to say…for now! Check back here again later for more reviews of obscure indie artists, and bestselling albums featuring dogs barking Christmas carols!
Buy Project Smash on J.K.’s Bandcamp here