Aesop Rock – Skelethon
Skelethon is the first album from Aesop Rock to be entirely self-produced, but the template hasn't fluctuated much from the mercurial, experimental approach he adopted on his groundbreaking None Shall Pass. There are flashes of less hip-hop oriented musical adventures on Crows 1, featuring a nursery-rhyme refrain from Kimya Dawson of twee-folkers Moldy Peaches. Scratch deeper, and many of Aesop's productions are anchored in an indie-rock sensibility, from the picked, echoing guitar melody of opener Leisureforce, to the beatless, vibrato chords behind his emotional verse on Ruby '81.
It's a method that works fluidly, allowing Aesop to indulge in half-sung choruses alongside his trademark stream-of-consciousness lyrics. His talent for surrealistic storytelling is undimmed; if anything, the phantasmagorical street scenes and adventures described in tracks like 1000 O'Clock and the bizarre Homemade Mummy are more packed with vivid metaphors than ever before. Aesop's flow is supple and acrobatic, flipping between double time and run-on parallel rhymes. A satisfying and coherent album of hip-hop weirdness from one of the genre's most interesting and enduring characters.