Geniuser – I Am
With I Am, Geniuser offer up an introspective collection of verse-focused songs which explore a variety of electronic genres, and should be listened to without distraction
Geniuser, the duo of Michael Allen and Guiseppe De Bellis, combines the sultry mood of trip-hop drowning in the yearning urgency of post-punk on their second full length and first for OhAh Records. Expanding on their initial Mud Black collaboration, their latest LP is a churning pit of electronic rhythms and guttural vocals. It’s an introspective collection of verse-focused songs, over which the duo explore a variety of classic electronic genres, from dub to doomed hip-hop on Monkey.
Geniuser vocalist Allen channels the aloof, brooding energy of the grisliest punk baritones. There’s a little bit of Iggy Pop, Nick Cave, and a little lot-a-bit of Alan Vega in Allen’s tortured croon. The album’s single ballad, A Thousand Sorrows lays these influences bare, where Allen is at his most vulnerable battling for dominance over a pulverised drum machine. Most of the time the dour vocals works in their favor, but occasionally the songs suffer from a sense of monotony, especially in instances where there is only one movement to the piece.
Disconnected shows the group at their peppiest, swaggering in between the rumbling synth bass while Allen sings ‘I think about my teacher, in drag, I look like a preacher, I’m told.’ Dividing the album in half and demonstrating how Geniuser is never content with sticking to a particular lane, Disconnected ends on a surprising choral note. This use of sampling and electronics connects Geniuser to their no-wave predecessors. The group draws influences from a variety of late 20th-century deviants-turned-tastemakers.
The Spaghetti Western composer, and legend, Ennio Morricone gets a reference on the ambling album opener Man of God. Massive Attack’s rumbling drums and the subtle, choral pads of mid-2000s British alternative bubble up in-between aggressive vocal charges. Gradually emerging through different movements on No Countries and Man of Sand, Geniuser also take clear influence from the UK underground’s current obsession with spacious dub. This is especially apparent on the album’s odd-song-out, Skull Pop (Dub).
An elegiac durge that surges double-time into a dub anthem, Skull Pop (Dub) may be the best song on the album as it incorporates an uplifting sample over the bit-crushed productions, setting the tone for the album to come while standing out as the only song that doesn’t feature Allen’s vocals. I Am requires listening without distraction. It’s probably best to set up camp atop a hill somewhere and watch a thunderstorm as Geniuser’s cryptic, emotional durges wash over you.
Listen to: Skull Pop (Dub), Disconnected