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Maverick MC Dose One (of leftfield rap crew CloudDead
) and renegade DJ/producer Boom Bip are both known for their idiosyncratic approaches to hip-hop. Circle
is not for the weak-hearted. Representing the quite sickening force of their warped minds on wax, this is as turbid and discursive, a document as you're likely to hear. Boom Bip builds his bold, b-boy based bricolage from whatever he can get his hands on: African riddims, birdsong, stamping feet, whistles, eerie graveyard noises, cinematics, dope beats, electro, creaks, rock guitar riffs... nothing is safe from his bubbling sound cauldron. Fluttering around this mazy, bewitching soundscape is the sinister, cartoon-esque voice of Dose One who, if anything, proves himself even more random and demented. Throwing out prose as spontaneous and dizzying as a Charlie Parker solo, the MC revels in nonsensical verse, absurdist juxtapositions and stream-of-consciousness lyrics, sweeping and diving madly from pleasant harmonising to paranoid whisperings. Though consistently unhinged and often unsettling, the moments when the duo line up beats and rhymes in straight-up hip-hop fashion are truly exhilarating, like sunshine suddenly breaking through a dense fog. One part hip-hop, two parts audio theatre, this album is ambitious, indulgent and intensely against the grain. "The only war that counts is the war against the imagination" chirps Dose One--and it looks like they've already won. Paul Sullivan