Dark Time Sunshine

Dark Time Sunshine's follow-up to their seminal "Vessel" has landed...and it does not disappoint. The formula remains the same as ever: producer Zavala weaving unique and sometimes unexpected electronica over a backdrop of dusty breakbeats and Grayskul member Onry Ozzborn adding his always unexpected lyrics and relaxed yet confident flow. From stellar guest appearances from the likes of fellow avant guardian and newly minted Rhymesayer Aesop Rock to P.O.S. and Busdriver, ANX is a well-orchestrated album start to finish. This release, coupled with their current tour with Aesop Rock should cement them in the best-of-lists of 2012.

While forums will likely echo sentiments of "their old stuff was better" in the way that every music fan has a nostalgia for the first time they heard so-and-so, DTS' ANX is much more polished than any of their previous efforts. The album is slightly less Dark Time and a lil more Sunshine. That's not to say it's a god-damn Cardigans album---it's apathetic with highlights of energy where the moment demands. This slight mood shift might have something to do with them mixing the album in Alaska (presumably in the summer) with engineer Jack Rylands.

The energetic highlights and (almost) happy sound is best showcased in the track "Valiant" which features labelmates Child Actor. The flighty, high-pitched vocals that make the backbone of the beat almost reminds me of The Avalanches. Each verse builds up to a satisfying lyrical crescendo before a nice little break. I particularily like a line in the second verse where Onry states "You never actually get a grip of my lithium spit, saliva acid trip." It pretty much sums up his lyrical style. His clear yet somewhat laid-back flow sounds a little like Cage on Hell's Winter. The soft, ambient indie-rock chorus doesn't hurt that comparison either. The outro beat however is all DTS; a welcome signature.

In similar fashion, "Prarie Dog Day" is another excellent cut that blends filtered vocals and a nice 90ish BPM beat complete with an ill bassline and sporadic synths, and all sorts of live instrumentation. The aptly-worded chorus "Reckon it's time for the prarie dogs to come out and play, so make way. Get away, ground hog, so long. Get away, ground hog, so long." help transition the track from verse to verse. The last of these comes during a pretty epic break in the beat. As is the case with "Valiant" it ends on an amazingly upbeat minute long afterbeat.

Onry is obviously the lyrical focal point of the album but every guest did their best to match the bars (see what I did there) set by Mr. Ozzborn. From P.O.S.'s serious yet slightly humorous style to Poeina Suddarth's hauntingly beautiful vocals to a verse from Aesop Rock that echoes Labor Days each feature is a logical one. With the futuristic beats of Zavala and the abstract steez of Onry, ANX is the type of album that will help garnish new fans without alienating existing ones, like it should be.

-Nick McClure