Time Crisis
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Time Crisis

New London, Connecticut, United States

New London, Connecticut, United States
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All press links available here:
http://www.famelessfam.com/?page_id=6 - Various Media


Hip-hop isn’t too often given to experimentation. Genre conventions shift slowly and artists move in packs – perhaps due to the collaborative nature of the music, ideas tend to crop up across the field all at the same time. A fresh approach is either embraced widely or ignored before it reaches any broad audience. You can imagine some studio employee holding the phone up to T-Pain’s monitors, calling Akon and exclaiming, “It’s your cousin! Marvin Kon! You know that sound you were looking for?”

That’s why first-timer duo Time Crisis’ debut stands out. A collaborative effort from Jon Markson ’12 and Will Brown ’11 with rappers and musicians from their Boston-based Fameless Fam collective, it is thirty-two minutes of dense textures that alternate between floating vibes and pounding beats, without a single moment of stasis. They’re not given to aping current trends or banking on the innovations of other artists guaranteeing them success. It’s not that they’re without their influences – just that their treatment of those influences recontextualizes and manipulates them to carefully curate the moods and emotional rhythms of their album in ways that are generally outside the scope of hip-hop producers.

A lot of the diversity of the album stems from the backgrounds of the members, both Conn students. Most notably, guitarist/singer Markson’s experience in nerdy indie with his former band Unique New York comes through strongly in the album’s frequent vocal harmonies, which owe more to American Football than to Nate Dogg. The intricate guitar work that recalls his Allentown scene-mates’ constant noodling.

On some tracks, the Sunny Day Real Estate tendencies can be a little too much, even for those of us still given to an emo afternoon or two, and for some listeners the singing might be a pretty serious turnoff. The chorus of “Pen to Paper” is powerful, for example, but the melody for the verse is aimless enough that the whining qualities of the delivery demand more attention.

Fortunately, there’s at least as much rapping. Fellow Fameless Fam member Virtue’s delivery is dynamic and interesting, and his flow, which recalls Blackalicious’ Gift of Gab as well as LA indie rappers like Subtitle and Busdriver, peppers the album with many of its best moments. His verse on “Blue Lips” cuts through the weight of the wasted atmosphere and slurry hook with engaging wordplay and confessional musings: “What’s the difference between co-dependency and addiction?” is an excellent line to drop into a relationship song this druggy.

The album’s biggest strength by far is the lush production. Every layer has room to breathe, yet the overall sound is perpetually full and gorgeously put-together. It’s more Pro Tools than studio, definitely, but the feel suits the material: the opening track lets a spoken word piece fade into a cut-up xylophone arrangement, like a poor man’s Phillip Glass. Ambient keys, understated percussive accents and abstract textures fill out the sound from start to finish, and that’s important: the album’s emphasis is definitely on the backing as the track itself rather than as support for the vocals, whether rapped or sung.

So when “Heaven’s” synthline kicks in, the thrill of the hook and the beat instantly grab the ear, a groove made of G-Funk swagger and stab sublimated into the postmodernism of today’s electroacoustic and synthy blog darlings. It’s the closest the album comes to straight hip-hop and it’s a good starting point. By the denouement of closer “Resolve,” the album’s covered some serious musical ground. Taking cues from Portishead’s triphop and the avant-garde approach of Anticon’s roster, Time Crisis treats the history of hip-hop as a suggestion box rather than a manual. Top 40 it ain’t, but for a first album it’s an accomplished and confident attempt at broadening horizons and giving a historically flat genre a shot of the experimental.
- The College Voice


Halfway through my interview with the Allston-based alt-hop collective Fameless Fam about their upcoming showcase at Wonder Bar this Tuesday, Will from the posse's glitch-minded duo Time Crisis mentions that he went to high school in Pittsburgh with rising rap sensation Wiz Khalifa. Will isn't boasting or blasting his former classmate — he's just naming heads who rep the Western Pennsylvania scene that schooled him. But what's interesting is that tonight is the first time he's ever mentioned this to all his crew members.

Although I doubt that any of these guys went to kindergarten with the Game, that wouldn't constitute bragging rights around the Fameless compound either. Social as they may be when ripping house parties, these guys are tortured æsthetic snobs, as misfit at their schools as they are in a genre that's mired in cliché and virtually devoid of metacognitive perspective. Made up of bright young cats with eclectic palettes, Fameless hover miles above the pine box that suffocates so many artists. Indeed, they're the products of El-P's LPs, Lif's life, Del's delights, and Aesop Rock's fables.

On the Fam's latest project, Entrapment, Calgary-bred MC Virtue (who is in the subgroup partyboobytrap with Exquisite Corpse and DJ Emoh of Blak Madeen and Deck Demons) rhymes: "All swagger is half ego/So swagger don't mean shit to real people/The other half is what you can afford/Which is so empty to those who are living in a storm." Virtue: "There are a lot of people in hip-hop talking about shit that is trivial to real life. And hip-hop, at least the way I see it, is supposed to be a portrayal of real life — not all that fluffy shit."

Although the scene here has hardened in the past half-decade, with the likes of Slaine, Termanology, and Amadeus out front, it's appropriate that the fringe-hanging Fameless Fam — who represent six cities, four states, and two countries — convened in Boston. After New York and Los Angeles, the Bean emerged in the late '90s as the home base for experimental boom-bap. This is where subterranean champions like Esoteric, Mike Ladd, and Edan blossomed, and where such imaginative East Coast roughnecks as Vinnie Paz and Planetary planted early seeds. Not that that came as a surprise to these guys, for whom Boston is what Nashville is for aspiring country singers.

"There are many reasons I live in Boston, but one is that I was talking to Mr. Lif one time when he was up in Calgary on tour," says ringleader Virtue, who, like Exquisite Corpse, will soon enter his senior year at Emerson. "I told Lif that I might want to go to school in Boston and do radio there, and he told me that stations here like WERS were what got him into hip-hop. His telling me about how great the scene was made me realize that I could bring my music here."

But dreams don't always mirror plans. Virtue's posse have, no surprise, found most of their campus contemporaries to be out of step with their progressive tendencies. Their shows at spots like the now-condemned Unit 11 in Allston clicked, but the Fam were all but ignored by the legendary WERS rap program 88.9@Night, and that provoked them to drop the dis track "Radiocean," in which Virtue goes so far as to say that (gulp) "88.9 and JAM'N 94.5 merged."

Read more: http://thephoenix.com/Boston/music/104455-all-in-the-fam/?page=1#TOPCONTENT#ixzz0xHdlpvgG - Boston Phoenix (Chris Faraone)


Discography

Time Crisis - Time Crisis (2010) [full album]
Ricky Shabazz Presents - Free Shabazz (2010) [one track]

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Bio

Time Crisis welcomes the challenge of pushing modern music forward by blurring the traditional lines that separate genres. The Pennsylvania-bred duo fuses electronic and organic sounds to produce an audio experience that is both progressive and catchy. From sequencer to six string, vocoder to violin, Time Crisis takes full advantage of an expansive sonic palette.

The duo began when Will Brown and Jon Markson met in Connecticut, where the PA natives attended college. Upon meeting, both were equipped with a unique take on music shaped by their respective upbringings. Markson was accustomed to the eclectic buzz of Allentown, while Brown embraced the urban boom bap of Pittsburgh. Markson was taken aback by Brown’s vertical stature and hip-hop instrumentals. Brown was equally enthralled by Markson’s moustache and guitar playing. The two bonded over a shared sense of humor and a passion for wildly expressive music, and Time Crisis was born.

Fameless Fam is honored to present the self-titled debut of Time Crisis. Ten songs deep, each track is as much a journey through the human heart as it is an exploration of instrumentation, arrangement, and voice. This true collage of the sonic-spectrum, from hip-hop to glitch-pop, to post-rock and back again, sets the stage for fellow Fam, partyboobytrap, to contribute their personal touches, including accompaniment from the acclaimed DJ Emoh Betta, and words from Virtue and Exquisite Corpse. With the addition of turntablism and poignant rhymes, Time Crisis’ sundry sounds take on yet another layer of emotion and character.

Programmed percussion and live drums bounce with vigor, cloudy vocals sing triumphantly through the aural haze of acoustic guitar shattering over rolling bass lines and shining synths. This record encapsulates the mosaic of our generation through collaboration, and is sure to mark the start of a collective that will offer us honest and progressive music for years to come.

Have shared the stage with such artists as:
Sleigh Bells, Ikey Owens (mars volta), Sage Francis, George Watsky, 2Mex, Dark Time Sunshine, Ceschi, Louis Logic, Fresh Daily, Abstract Rude, Magnum K.I. and many more.