Review: Marlowe – Marlowe (Mello Music Group, Jul 13)

The most beloved, enduring producer/rapper hip-hop duos are the ones whose members bring out the best in each other. With their debut self-titled record as Marlowe, Solemn Brigham and L’Orange have joined the greatest of these, and I couldn’t imagine a better pairing for both of these artists. Despite the difference in experience – L’Orange has been actively producing for over seven years, and this is the first full-length release on which Brigham has appeared – both work together to create something greater than either could have accomplished on their own. From the very beginning, Marlowe is playful and theatrical, but in an abstract way; Brigham’s messages are heavily veiled in his cryptic, cascading bars, and the occasional crackle-marred sample interjections don’t further illuminate anything. But I prefer it this way. There are few things I dislike more in hip-hop than annoying transparency, and I love the fact that I have to actively try to figure this record out. I recognize that not everyone shares this opinion, and the fact that Marlowe is just as strange in style means it’s probably not for everyone – but those who will like it will really like it. Brigham’s droning, monotone delivery is perfect atop L’Orange’s dynamic and driving beats, with both always pushing each song along at a meditative pace. I found myself bobbing my head similarly to when I listen to Neu! or Boredoms, and I’m grateful that I’ve finally found a hip-hop record with this sort of rhythmically hypnotic effect. The skits are short, entertaining, nondisruptive; the pacing perfect; the ending conclusive and satisfying despite my never really knowing what was going on. I really can’t say enough good things.