Alias and Doseone have spent the last 20 years of their career helping grow and develop their independent label Anticon. Both being an integral part of this very progressive label, the two were close friends. Not only were they labelmates, but they worked in the classic hip-hop group Deep Puddle Dynamics together. From hearing the group’s classic record, The Taste of Rain… Why Kneel?, it is evident that these two have a strong connection. Their chemistry on the project is palpable for even the most casual of listeners. With that being said, they rarely worked together on projects since. Deep Puddle Dynamics’ 2002 We Ain’t Fessin’ EP was the last time the two had gotten to showcase their musical compatibility. It seemed the two artists were primed for a reunion of some sort. Their proximity and relationship to each other certainly suggested that at least.
This assumption turned out to be correct, but the circumstances are certainly less than ideal. The duo’s 2018 collaboration, Less is Orchestra, comes off the heels of Brendon Whitney’s (Alias) death. Whitney suffered a heart attack on March 30th of this year. Fans, family and peers of Whitney alike were and still are devastated. At just the age of 41 years old, it is unbelievably saddening to see someone in your life pass away. It is completely understandable to be overcome with emotion in these times and ultimately try to focus on other things. Apparently, the folks at Anticon were not interested in doing this. They figured the best way to pay tribute to Alias would be to release his awaited collaboration with Doseone. In effect, they used this hard stretch of time as a moment to celebrate not only Brendon Whitney but those who live on through Brendon Whitney. Anticon was generous enough to release this album posthumously, so the fans and Whitney’s peers could have one last work to remember him by. And this is certainly a project worth remembering.
Alias and Doseone showcase their rapport immediately on “Fact Colossal.” The beat is just as unpredictable as Doseone’s creative rhyme schemes and articulations. The synths tingle the listener’s ears with their use of staccato articulation. The arpeggiated rhythms of the synth groove also manage to lodge themselves into the listeners’ brain with ease. Lastly, the variance in snare and kick sounds on this track make for a smart beat.
“The Deadener” is another standout on this project. Vocals come to the forefront on this track as the beat is a bit more bare. Doseone’s vocal inflections and method acting like performance on this track really make this work. Dose is always switching up his cadence or his tone of voice to intrigue the listener. Alias is usually able to create slight switch-ups in the beat to mirror this effect as well. Throughout this track, the two end up working together in a only slight, but still masterful way. As Dose starts going frenetic on this song, Alias starts layering in rising horn-synth tracks that create a tension in the track. The outro of the song sees all this tension come to fruition with a feel change in the beat. Things start to ease up and eventually the track dissipates under pitched down vocals.
Sure, there are other fantastic moments here like the somber, yet captivating “The Doghawk,” but there is not too much more to say. On this project, Alias and Doseone truly were themselves. If you never have listened to either of these artists, this would be a fantastic depiction of their characters. From Doseone’s zany delivery to Alias’ encompassing and sonically diverse beats, these two never are afraid of being themselves. And sure, this album may not be a masterpiece or anything, but it feels huge. It feels like a celebration and a good one at that. When considering an artist like Brendon Whitney, that certainly feels appropriate.