Aesop Rock – “Spirit World Field Guide” review

Aesop Rock is a 44 year old MC/producer from New York known for his massive vocabulary. Dude has put out a handful of underground hip hop essentials throughout the decades whether it be his solo catalogue or his membership of groups like Hail Mary Mallon or Malibu Ken. Last we heard from Aesop on his own was in 2016 with the release of The Impossible Kid but as we approach the end of 2020, the man is delivering his 8th full-length album.

The album kicks off with “Hello from the Spirit World”, where Aesop describes the concept of the album over a xylophone-infused instrumental. “The Gates” then talks about being detached from society over a video gamey-beat while the song “Button Masher” talks about being buzzed over an abstract instrumental. The track “Dog at the Door” is literally about a dog barking at his door over a funky beat while the song “Gauze” talks about being watched over some drums & a bass guitar.

The track “Pizza Alley” talks about an experience he had in Peru over an entrancing beat while the song “Crystal Sword” talks about being nary of a known other over a funky boom bap instrumental. The track “Boot Soup” gets on the battle bar tip over a buzzing beat with some explosive drums while the song “Coveralls” talks about being on his old shit over a quirky instrumental.

The track “Jumping Coffin” talks about letting the combatants in over an electro-flavored beat while the song “Holy Waterfall” talks about a paranormal energy being waken & gaged over a synth-enlaced instrumental. The track “Flies” talks about cleaning his whole crib from insects over a calming boom bap beat while the song “Salt” talks about an unknown condition over an atmospheric instrumental.

The track “Sleeper Car” talks about feeling like losing it all again over a whimsical beat while the song “1 to 10” talks about having a bad back over a bare piano instrumental. The track “Attaboy” takes listeners to different levels of the spirit world over a dark beat while the song “Kodokushi” talks about dying alone over an Atari-esque instrumental.

The track “Fixed & Dilated” talks about a list of people he plans to haunt over a paranormal instrumental while the song “Side Quest” talks about skating the store at night over some bass & live drumming. The penultimate track “Marble Cake” talks about wanting to meet the maker over a tense beat with a brief switch-up near the end of the first half then the album ends with “The 4 Winds”, which describes sideways rain over a exploitation-esque instrumental.

I know this literally just came out, but I’ll honestly go as to far to say that this is one the best albums Aesop Rock has done yet. The outdoorsmen concept of the whole thing is very well executed & his production has only gotten better with time.

Score: 4/5

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