Dark Time Sunshine
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Dark Time Sunshine

Seattle, Washington, United States | INDIE

Seattle, Washington, United States | INDIE
Band Hip Hop Alternative

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Relaxing and always likely to yield some results (positive or negative), crate-digging is a vacation hobby of mine. In town for Seattle's 2008 Bumbershoot festival, I walked into the (somewhat) renowned Silver Platters record store seeking not only to relieve a bladder beyond capacity, but also enlightenment on the local music scene. With respect to hip-hop, the first name out of several mouths was "Grayskul" - being well known in the underground is typically a good sign, so that made Bloody Radio an easy selection. While the overall sound was pretty typical for the region, one part of the equation really stood out: MC Onry Ozzborn. So I've kept my eyes peeled for the past two years - albeit a few equally uninspired releases followed, Dark Time Sunshine's Vessel was well worth the wait.

The DTS project rectifies every Grayskul-presented hip-hop faux-pas by, first of all, removing all other lyricists from the mix. Ozzborn, reborn under the new pseudonym Cape Cowen, is given a chance to shine. And shine he does, beyond all expectations set by his prior involvements: insightful storytelling, multi-syllabic and internal rhymes, and an obvious intelligence presents a unique interbreeding of several "indie-rap" innovators. For sake of comparison only, picture elements of Slug, Aesop Rock, and El-P, sans the scientifical wizard-rap. A true testament to his abilities is his capability to keep up with highly respected featured artists; where P.O.S., Aes Rock, and Solillaquists' Swamburger drop fantastic verses, they never overshadow the star of the show, who justifiably and creatively maintains any listeners' focus.

The second important facet of Dark Time Sunshine's success is its forsaking of Northwestern tradition with respect to production. Chicago producer Zavala further expands his region's burgeoning sonic renown to include not only the pop-rap and electronic ideals of his peers and precursors, but also an experimental aura courtesy of late 90s-era Company Flow influences of sorts. Zavala puts forth what seems to be roots in rock composition and sampling, combining this with electronic-heavy beats, soulful choruses, and more-than-adequately performed vocal cameos. The result is a completely different breed of hip-hop, drawing from the psychadelic.

Everything about Vessel just works, from the operatic-come rock leanings of intro "Vessel" to the epic chilldown outro of "No Eye Contact", Dark Time Sunshine's sophomore effort is a ride worth taking from start to finish. This not only for fans of indie-rooted hip-hop, but eclectic music in general and will be remembered as one of the first great joints of the new decade.

http://www.myspace.com/darktimesunshine

To Purchase Vessel: http://www.circleintosquare.com/item/vessel - Sputnik Music


For an emcee with an absurd number of aliases (Onry Ozzborn, Reason, Count Draven etc.), Michael Martinez seems to have found his true identity as Cape Cowen with Dark Time Sunshine. The dystopian malevolence of his earlier work with Grayskul and Oldominion has largely given way to witty and astute musings on the human condition via Vessel. His shift in approach is reminiscent of Cage's reinvention of himself some five years ago. While a dark, nebulous undercurrent remains, rays of sunlight occasionally peak through the Venetians. The sinister soundscapes of Zavala, the Chicago-based producer and other half of Dark Time Sunshine, propel Cape Cowen toward the most focused work of his burgeoning career. Zavalas's sound is equal parts boom bap and psych-rock. The consistency of his beats provides the platform for a wide array of subject matter to develop without sacrificing continuity. A tongue-in-cheek Cape Cowen refers to the project as snob rap and places it somewhere on the continuum between MGMT and Outkast. He is at his storytelling best on "E.R." and "Little Or No Concern," the latter track a somber, heartfelt tale of inherited addiction. P.O.S. and Aesop Rock breathe fire over lo-fi funk on "Primor," which epitomizes everything a posse cut should be. Vessel reaches its cinematic apex on the dense, uptempo "All Aboard," with assistance from Reva Devito on the beautiful, swirling hook. No song better encapsulates Cowen's artistic transformation. - URB Magazine


The diversity within underground hip-hop is what truly makes it such an intriguing musical realm. You can have acts like Intuition and Atmosphere tackling the woes of chasing females, among other topics, while acts like Tanya Morgan recall the days when Native Tongues reigned supreme. Then, you have a duo like Dark Time Sunshine, which is made up of Onry Ozzborne, best known for his work with Grayskul, and Portland producer Zavala. The two don’t exactly exist in the underground, if you want to be literal. Rather, these guys occupy the far reaches of outer space, where like-minded artists El-P and Aesop Rock have sometimes called home over the years. The latter of those two even makes an appearance on here.

Call it space-hop, fringe-hop, or whatever the hell you want to. But Vessel, the duo’s latest offering, is simply well put-together rap music that may or may not have been created in our galaxy. As soon as the opening title-track, which bangs with distorted guitars, kicks off, you know you are in for an interesting listen, both musically and lyrically.

And that’s exactly what you get on here. “Now They Know” is Ozzborne’s haunting State of the Union while “E.R.” is a stuttering Nine Inch Nails-esque trip to the hospital. Then you have a posse-cut like “Primor” that boasts killer verses from show-stealer P.O.S., Peegee 13, Aesop Rock, and Ozzborne. They would rip it across any beat, but Zavala complements the insanity perfectly with emerging horns and tribal horns while DJ Zone scratches the hell out of the hook. Later on the album, Solillaquists of Sound, Xperience, and Qwel, who slays his verse, turn “Instructions to Numb” into a joint that would sound right at home on a Subtle album.

Vessel only falters slightly when considering its replay value, which is slightly hindered by its hour-long playing time. The first few listens to this record are actually the most intriguing because these kind of sonic experiences don’t come around too often. Its dense, heady vibe makes repeated spins somewhat difficult as your enjoyment of the record becomes heavily based on your mood. But when the mood strikes you for something a little different, I bid you good luck in finding a better album from 2010 that will suit your needs. - Potholes In My Blog


Discography

Dark Time Sunshine - Cornucopia - (tour only) 2010
Dark Time Sunshine - Vessel - 2010
Dark Time Sunshine - Adultland 7 " 2010
Dark Time Sunshine - Believeyoume (free download ep) 2009

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Bio

"For an emcee with an absurd number of aliases (Onry Ozzborn, Reason, Count Draven etc.), Michael Martinez seems to have found his true identity as Cape Cowen with Dark Time Sunshine. The dystopian malevolence of his earlier work with Grayskul and Oldominion has largely given way to witty and astute musings on the human condition via Vessel. His shift in approach is reminiscent of Cage’s reinvention of himself some five years ago. While a dark, nebulous undercurrent remains, rays of sunlight occasionally peak through the Venetians.

The sinister soundscapes of Zavala, the Chicago-based producer and other half of Dark Time Sunshine, propel Cape Cowen toward the most focused work of his burgeoning career. Zavalas’s sound is equal parts boom bap and psych-rock. The consistency of his beats provides the platform for a wide array of subject matter to develop without sacrificing continuity. A tongue-in-cheek Cape Cowen refers to the project as snob rap and places it somewhere on the continuum between MGMT and Outkast. He is at his storytelling best on “E.R.” and “Little Or No Concern,” the latter track a somber, heartfelt tale of inherited addiction. P.O.S. and Aesop Rock breathe fire over lo-fi funk on “Primor,” which epitomizes everything a posse cut should be. Vessel reaches its cinematic apex on the dense, uptempo “All Aboard,” with assistance from Reva Devito on the beautiful, swirling hook. No song better encapsulates Cowen’s artistic transformation.

Following the superb EP Believeyoume, which found Cowen handling all vocal duties, the abundance of guests on Vessel comes as a surprise. Fortunately the lion’s share of featured artists (e.g. Solillaquists of Sound, Qwel) carry their weight and complement Zavala’s production style quite well. Some of his more nefarious beats lend themselves to razor-sharp, abstract raps from Cowen which are every bit as engaging as the straight-forward concept pieces on the record. There are few dull moments on Vessel, one of the strongest hip hop albums of this young year indie or otherwise.

Fake Four has emerged as a formidable label with avante-garde releases over the past half-year from the likes of Dark Time Sunshine, Sole & The Skyrider Band and Ron Contour. Wildly talented lyricists and mind-bending beatsmiths are pushing the boundaries of indie rap while incorporating a vast arsenal of influences. With summer albums on the way from Ceschi and Factor, don’t expect the momentum to die anytime soon."
- URB Magazine - 4/5 stars