700 Bliss – Nothing to Declare
Moor Mother & DJ Haram reconvene as 700 Bliss for a patchy but bracing collection.
When Philadelphia DIY mainstays DJ Haram and Moor Mother coalesced into 700 Bliss for 2018’s Spa 700 they found a specific space of noise rap few others were touching. It’s a similar space they occupy on Nothing to Declare, heavy bass hits and noisy squawks of synth but with Moor Mother bringing a lightness of touch less apparent in her solo work. There’s nothing with the sheer stuttering urgency of 700 Spa’s magnificent breakout Ring the Alarm but when the record hits its stride there’s some genuinely great stuff.
Capitol is constantly shaking off its rhythm, sometimes a mire of squelching noise, sometimes The Normal-esque minimalism, buoyed by Special Interest’s Alli Logout, whose contribution brings both tunefulness and a new frantic energy to proceedings. Similarly Orion Sun’s vocals on Nightflame bring a twist of tenderness to a tune that sounds brilliantly frayed and dead-eyed.
That being said, at 16 tracks the album does slightly outstay its welcome, and in its latter stages it begins to feel like ideas are being repeated, but with less focus and immediacy. It’s particularly evident on Sixteen which seems to simply circle the drain, never finding anything to develop into, just occasionally bunging some stabs of mulched bass in like an afterthought. It’s only on closer Lead Level 15 that the record receives another shot in the arm, building and collapsing over and over; with blares of horns and pummelling rhythms, it feels loose and free in a way swathes of the album don’t, and in a minute-and-a-half it wriggles its way into being something clatteringly anthemic. It’s emblematic of a record that, when it manages to properly click into momentum, is startlingly good.
Listen to: Nightflame, Capitol, Lead Level 15