Hives Inquiry Squad
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Hives Inquiry Squad

Portland, Oregon, United States | SELF

Portland, Oregon, United States | SELF
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"Hive Mind"

LISTENING TO EDIFICE, the debut full-length from Hives Inquiry Squad, is a lesson in the multitudes contained within the current Portland hiphop community. The duo of recent Midwest transplants Lucas Dix and Gavin Soens spits dystopian diatribes over multi-layered soundscapes courtesy of Soens (whose production work is credited to his alter ego Gavin Theory). The lyrical style is acrobatic and joyfully disjointed—think Aesop Rock meets Busta Rhymes—while the subject matter owes far more to the post-apocalyptic claustrophobia found on Funcrusher Plus than to the more ubiquitous ride-or-die ethos of The Chronic. In cinematic terms, it eschews the tragic braggadocio of Scarface for a universe that is decidedly Blade Runner in its subterranean futurism.

In addition, the Squad reaches out to other local acts, including some welcome comic relief courtesy of shamelessly underrated emcee Abadawn on the track "Neuro," as well as a soulful vocal hook on "Enough" from Mimi Naja of local folk act Fruition—that track being produced by Portland electro-wunderkind the Great Mundane.

Edifice is also a testament to judicious patience and restraint. While Dix and Soens have been collaborating for almost a decade now—since their days together in the high school hallways of Kenosha, Wisconsin—it's only now that their tireless dedication to their craft has come to fruition. As Soens recently explained in an interview on KBOO, "If we're gonna put out an album, I'm gonna put a lot of work into it. I'm gonna put a lot of thought into the rhymes. I'm not gonna sit down and write a rhyme in a day and then just spew it out to people. So, it takes a lot of time to really get a good collection of songs together, to have real cohesive depth inside the work and the production, where you can really listen to it over and over again and keep catching new things. So that's what the aim is." If that's the aim, then the subsequent kaleidoscopic shot of Edifice hits the bull's eye point blank.

- Portland Mercury


"Album Review: Hives Inquiry Squad"

ELECTRO-HIP-HOP] The most prevalent lyrical themes in mainstream rap are (in order of descending popularity): “Money is awesome”; “My crew and I are awesome”; “Bitches and weed are awesome (but also troublesome).”

So it’s refreshing to hear Hives Inquiry Squad’s less-conventional recurring theme committed to tape: “Big, often antiquated words strung together at odd angles…are awesome.” There is simply no other crew in Portland that would attempt to string together a verse like this one, from the druggy, Disney-esque Edifice opener, “Enire”: “Charismatic caricatures carry the herds to the meadows/ Where we buried the ’burbs, nature returned—now that’s retro/ Asbestos to vessel/ Lay low below potential/ Eventual celestial sentient intellectuals.” While not a clearly navigable narrative, that passage sweeps colorful post-apocalyptic imagery in through the listener’s ears whether they catch each twist or not.


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RATE It’s psychedelic rap, and in tandem with a pair of earbuds and Gavin Theory’s woozy, drum-’n’-bass-inspired beats, there’s enough here to trip you the fuck out.




Now, not everyone wants their hip-hop to trip them the fuck out, and they’ll be annoyed on a few fronts here: Theory and fellow MC Lucas Dix’s bubbly voices tend to blur together, and their verbal assault is so unrelenting that the disc might have worked better as two EPs than as an overwhelming full-length disc.




Still, Hives Inquiry Squad is onto something, as evidenced by a growing cult following that kind of looks like it’s about to board the Further bus and interest from more traditional local hip-hop artists taking note of Hives’ infectious live energy. Hives Inquiry Squad may indeed be (as Dix rhymes on “Toxic Algae Bloom”) “lost on a tangent, lamping into Xanadu”—but there are sure a lot of folks along for the ride.


- Willamette Weekly


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Still working on that hot first release.

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