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Aesop Rock and Blockhead reunite to cerebral effect on new song and video “Jazz Hands”

Aesop Rock and Blockhead have proven themselves a creative powerhouse of a union countless times over the past two decades, yielding many underground classics and driving Vans and Jansports sales through the roof. While Blockhead has featured heavily on some of Aesop Rock’s most lauded albums, the duo has never made a full length LP together. The upcoming album Garbology is set to fix this unthinkable injustice, and we have been blessed with a preview of the main event in the form of new song and music video “Jazz Hands”. If this is a good indication of what we can expect from Garbology, it looks like there will be an abundance of mystical explorations of loss and the human condition, told through dense, intricate lyricism. As they say on TikTok, I’m here for it.

On “Jazz Hands”, Blockhead has hit us with a beat tease both inspired and frustrating for those familiar with his catalogue. The majority of the track is led by a cinematic score with no percussion in the vein of Roc Marciano or Ka, but with a broader, more introspective tone. After injecting the obligatory spoiler alert, I can confirm that the beat does indeed drop, but only at the end, after Aesop Rock has clocked out. As an appetizer for the album, it is suitably intriguing. The backpackers may grumble, but this will forever be the case. On a surface level, it reaches an emotional depth that befits the general atmosphere. Underneath lies the Blockhead purist who wants loud, clattering drums from the word go, but they must be blocked out.

Aesop Rock is in peak form on “Jazz Hands”, as he has been on every release in recent memory. Peak form is his standard form at this point. Aesop uses the space provided by the instrumental to stretch out, unceremoniously dropping instant quotables and a few little coded gifts for later. His position as the bedraggled poet laureate of the Queens skate parks remains unscathed, as he callously kicks pretenders into the pit of obscurity with a debonair turn of phrase.

“Partly cloudy, palpable panic in the troposphere

Wake a giant, poke a bear, we don’t do smoke and mirrors

We do do a medkit and spare clothes

Leave a motherfucker nowhere close

New superpower that I picked up in a frenzy

I could draw a roof on fire from memory

Each and every sketch another bloodletting

In a wake of escalation and excessive rubbernecking”

After Aesop reaches his ultimate conclusion that “The revolution will not have jazz hands”, Blockhead brings the drums out and it all makes sense. The beat rolls like Massive Attack while melodies and riffs slide in and out of focus, forming a psychedelic soup which was undeniably worth the wait for all but the most ardent fans.

The music video provides plenty of meticulously curated, contextual images of the city, showing one man’s unremarkable journey while surrounded by shards of neurosis and trauma. As the beat drops, our protagonist transforms from an urbane gentleman into a carefree kid jumping from a bridge into a river, unburdened by the pressures of modern society, lucky shit.

“Jazz Hands” suggests that the pair may be working on a different frequency than in yesteryear, aiming for a more cerebral approach. This approach is clearly working, and it will be interesting to see how it thread in with the rest of the album. We will have to wait for the November 12 release of Garbology on Rhymesayers to be sure. Buy “Jazz Hands” here.

Connect with Aesop Rock: Spotify | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram

Connect with Blockhead: Spotify | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram

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