Hip-hop outfit Ceiling Demons have followed up their EP with their debut album Dual Sides. Recorded deep in the heart of the Yorkshire Dales, they have begun an interesting journey into the uncharted territory of rural rap music with results that leave the listener, for the most part, enthusiastic.
The albums opener Demons is suitably malign, befitting both the group’s name and the track’s title. Devilish choral samples provide the backdrop as the band takes turns to deliver menacing lyrics “Haunting, Ceilings, shadows, demons. We are creeping, silently feeding”. As the record continues, the haunting theme is balanced out by melodic samples, string sections and sneering lyrics delivered with a healthy dose of self-assurance.
The album’s stand out track is, suitably, the first single from the album. Every Step Is Moving Me Up boasts the group’s finest performance in terms of production and execution. It exhibits their ability to provide excellent music for their rapping style, which itself manages to charm while simultaneously appearing lackadaisical in its approach. The song takes its name and main refrain from the Arthur Russell track This is How We Walk on the Moon and the influence doesn’t appear to stop there. The strings and vocal samples throughout the record are gorgeous and could have been ripped straight from the pages of Calling Out of Context. The musical interludes scattered throughout are refreshing and enjoyable musical stings that add an extra dimension to the overall feeling of the album.
Other standout tracks include Amputated Spirit, which features a melodic chorus not as dependent on an effective sample as Every Step Is Moving Me Up did. Its pop-like qualities surely make a good case for it becoming the record’s second single. The final track, Heartstrings continues the album’s tendency to have string sections acting as the backbone to the music to great effect. The vocals seem heartfelt and sincere and they provide a poignant and enjoyable ending to the album: “This life is about learning, sometimes, hurting, sometimes loving”.
Frustratingly, the drum sounds on this record often sound somewhat rudimentary and lack the kind of kick you would expect. At times this can result in a thinner sound, which does slightly detract from the grandeur of the impressive string sounds. Whilst most songs are very enjoyable Someone Great is surprisingly naff whilst Mirror’s Image is, frankly, unpleasant. Maybe I’ve missed the point, but if so it’s difficult to see what the point is.
Described in the sleeve notes as “…a journey of escapism that takes you through the darkness in order to appreciate the light” the Yorkshire trio have produced a record that more than holds its own. They’ve captured the feeling of their surroundings superbly, contrasting bleak messages with cheerful melodies. Dual Sides is a brave effort but it’s one that has paid off and produced an excellent debut album. Having exhibited their abilities in this way we should watch Ceiling Demons closely.
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