Death Grips – Government Plates

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  • Death Grips – Government Plates
    POSTED Dec 02 2013


     



    (All Italicised Quotes Taken From Paul W.S. Anderson’s 1997 Thriller

    ‘Event Horizon’)

     

    “Man I’m getting some really strange readings in here…” – ‘Justin’

     

    On Planet Earth—where Death Grips occasionally exist—humans have devised a method for measuring the decline of matter into disorder. They call this process entropy. Originally employed in thermodynamics to describe the degree of randomness present within a system, entropy basically suggests that disorder is the natural state to which the world is constantly returning. And most isolated systems, if left alone long enough, will do just that.

    Death Grips must surely be the musical equivalent of such a system. I imagine that to many parts of the commercial music world, Death Grips are like some haunted satellite, leaking junk information into deep space and growing more chaotic by the day. And at a glance you could see why. As a band mostly releasing albums for free, projecting fan suicide notes in lieu of playing shows (Chicago in August), making videos with the cumulative production values of a flip-phone camera, overwhelmingly refusing interviews, filesharing an album (2012’s No Love Deep Web) while under contract and generally creating some of the most unapologetically visceral music ever successfully released, Death Grips are in a fairly unique orbit. And Government Plates pretty muchconfirms that they’re still staring into the space’s yawning abyss. 


    I created the Event Horizon to reach the stars, but she’s gone much, much farther than that. She tore a hole in our universe, a gateway to another dimension. A dimension of pure chaos” - ‘Dr. William Weir’

     

    And Government Plates is where we truly get to see ‘maximal entropy as elemental equilibrium’ in full effect. Since the release of Ex-Military (when I found out thatburning rubber and bone char had an equivalent sound) Death Grips have moved beyond pure abrasion. Their sound remains compositionally similar—mutant industrial noise delivered with rabid layers of digital noise and rap—but the delivery changes perceptibly with every release. Government Plates is impregnated with the same isolation and convulsive spray of high-bandwidth psychosis as 2012’s No Love Deep Web, but it feels like their excavating further. They’re plunging further, dredging up something black, wet, nameless. But the idea of Death Grips going ‘further’ in Government Plates is only partially right. In effect, they’re simply maintaining their hold on the terrain they occupy. It just so happens that the terrain they occupy is a precipice, and to maintain any edge, particularly any artistic one, is to manufacture new challenges and in the case of Death Grips, invoking fresh layers of discomfort to confound and/or test audiences with.   


    “…the dark inside him…what does that mean?” - ‘Peters, Med Tech’

     

    Death Grips is a band obsessed by decay. And Government Plates certainly doesn’t prise any attention away from this consuming obsession. The album starts with smashing glass and falls instantly into shrieking noise. This is swiftly followed by lyrics like “I die in the process, you die in the process” and “gets so fuckin dark in here”. And the whole song named after a Bob Dylan lyric, which is more or less the last thing we’d ever expect from Death Grips. And from here it just gets darker. The first track boasts the same ‘industrial grade meat-grinder’ quality of ‘Come Up and Get Me’, the first track from No Love Deep Web, but what follows it is a whole lot more indigestible. ‘Anne Bonny’ starts with a word: “Pirate” before falling into light arpeggiated synth riffing, which in turn plummets into a rolling storm of drums and dark electronics. This approach (if approach is even the right word) uses sound as a sort of engine of decay. Narcoleptic waves of sonic texture drop away, devour each other and ultimately corrode traditional song structures at a speed that Death Grips haven’t previously reached. ‘Birds’ is doubtlessly the exemplar of this on Government Plates. Even more than the dichotomous ‘mouthful-of-rotting-teeth-and-sugar’ sound of ‘This is Violence Now’, ‘Birds’ captures the true essence of the sonic cannibalism that defines Government Plates, with it’s creeping guitar, laboured repetition and jarring rhythmic and tonal shifts. Death Grips certainly thought there was something particular about the track, choosing to release it ahead of the album. It certainly wasn’t it’s ‘single potential’, so much as a flagship song, something to fully proclaim the intention of the album. Moments of catharsis are much fewer and further between on Government Plates. ‘You Might Think He Loves You…’ and ‘Two Heavens’ provide early relief, but for the most part, despite the presence of some of the most breakneck beats we’ve ever witnessed from Death Grips, they’re, as a rule, more texture than release.


    “I am home.” – ‘Dr. William Weir’

     

     Government Plates is a cauldron of noise, bristling with incongruencies of rhythm and tone. It misleads, deceives and first time around even disappoints. But after a while, it becomes possible to catch up to Death Grips. Stay with Government Plates. Give it your time. Death Grips (hopefully) won’t ever stop making us feel a little uncomfortable. It is, after all, what we loved them for when we heard Ex-Military for the first time. The fringes of our tolerance, the boundaries of our taste is where Death Grips is always going to exist for most listeners, their home. Remaining in this zone means a constantly changing terrain, it means recalibrating expectations. But the demands that Government Plates make of us shouldn’t be cast as a ‘burden’ or necessarily the result of poor conception, it should serve as a reminder. A reminder that good music can still be challenging, can still cost us time and test our patience. But it’s almost always worth it.

     



     




     

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(All Italicised Quotes Taken From Paul W.S. Anderson’s 1997 Thriller

‘Event Horizon’)

 

“Man I’m getting some really strange readings in here…” – ‘Justin’

 

On Planet Earth—where Death Grips occasionally exist—humans have devised a method for measuring the decline of matter into disorder. They call this process entropy. Originally employed in thermodynamics to describe the degree of randomness present within a system, entropy basically suggests that disorder is the natural state to which the world is constantly returning. And most isolated systems, if left alone long enough, will do just that.

Death Grips must surely be the musical equivalent of such a system. I imagine that to many parts of the commercial music world, Death Grips are like some haunted satellite, leaking junk information into deep space and growing more chaotic by the day. And at a glance you could see why. As a band mostly releasing albums for free, projecting fan suicide notes in lieu of playing shows (Chicago in August), making videos with the cumulative production values of a flip-phone camera, overwhelmingly refusing interviews, filesharing an album (2012’s No Love Deep Web) while under contract and generally creating some of the most unapologetically visceral music ever successfully released, Death Grips are in a fairly unique orbit. And Government Plates pretty muchconfirms that they’re still staring into the space’s yawning abyss. 


I created the Event Horizon to reach the stars, but she’s gone much, much farther than that. She tore a hole in our universe, a gateway to another dimension. A dimension of pure chaos” - ‘Dr. William Weir’

 

And Government Plates is where we truly get to see ‘maximal entropy as elemental equilibrium’ in full effect. Since the release of Ex-Military (when I found out thatburning rubber and bone char had an equivalent sound) Death Grips have moved beyond pure abrasion. Their sound remains compositionally similar—mutant industrial noise delivered with rabid layers of digital noise and rap—but the delivery changes perceptibly with every release. Government Plates is impregnated with the same isolation and convulsive spray of high-bandwidth psychosis as 2012’s No Love Deep Web, but it feels like their excavating further. They’re plunging further, dredging up something black, wet, nameless. But the idea of Death Grips going ‘further’ in Government Plates is only partially right. In effect, they’re simply maintaining their hold on the terrain they occupy. It just so happens that the terrain they occupy is a precipice, and to maintain any edge, particularly any artistic one, is to manufacture new challenges and in the case of Death Grips, invoking fresh layers of discomfort to confound and/or test audiences with.   


“…the dark inside him…what does that mean?” - ‘Peters, Med Tech’

 

Death Grips is a band obsessed by decay. And Government Plates certainly doesn’t prise any attention away from this consuming obsession. The album starts with smashing glass and falls instantly into shrieking noise. This is swiftly followed by lyrics like “I die in the process, you die in the process” and “gets so fuckin dark in here”. And the whole song named after a Bob Dylan lyric, which is more or less the last thing we’d ever expect from Death Grips. And from here it just gets darker. The first track boasts the same ‘industrial grade meat-grinder’ quality of ‘Come Up and Get Me’, the first track from No Love Deep Web, but what follows it is a whole lot more indigestible. ‘Anne Bonny’ starts with a word: “Pirate” before falling into light arpeggiated synth riffing, which in turn plummets into a rolling storm of drums and dark electronics. This approach (if approach is even the right word) uses sound as a sort of engine of decay. Narcoleptic waves of sonic texture drop away, devour each other and ultimately corrode traditional song structures at a speed that Death Grips haven’t previously reached. ‘Birds’ is doubtlessly the exemplar of this on Government Plates. Even more than the dichotomous ‘mouthful-of-rotting-teeth-and-sugar’ sound of ‘This is Violence Now’, ‘Birds’ captures the true essence of the sonic cannibalism that defines Government Plates, with it’s creeping guitar, laboured repetition and jarring rhythmic and tonal shifts. Death Grips certainly thought there was something particular about the track, choosing to release it ahead of the album. It certainly wasn’t it’s ‘single potential’, so much as a flagship song, something to fully proclaim the intention of the album. Moments of catharsis are much fewer and further between on Government Plates. ‘You Might Think He Loves You…’ and ‘Two Heavens’ provide early relief, but for the most part, despite the presence of some of the most breakneck beats we’ve ever witnessed from Death Grips, they’re, as a rule, more texture than release.


“I am home.” – ‘Dr. William Weir’

 

 Government Plates is a cauldron of noise, bristling with incongruencies of rhythm and tone. It misleads, deceives and first time around even disappoints. But after a while, it becomes possible to catch up to Death Grips. Stay with Government Plates. Give it your time. Death Grips (hopefully) won’t ever stop making us feel a little uncomfortable. It is, after all, what we loved them for when we heard Ex-Military for the first time. The fringes of our tolerance, the boundaries of our taste is where Death Grips is always going to exist for most listeners, their home. Remaining in this zone means a constantly changing terrain, it means recalibrating expectations. But the demands that Government Plates make of us shouldn’t be cast as a ‘burden’ or necessarily the result of poor conception, it should serve as a reminder. A reminder that good music can still be challenging, can still cost us time and test our patience. But it’s almost always worth it.

 



 




 

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