A decade ago, a record like Loden's The Star-Eyed Condition would complicate our brains with quandries of global communities and the crossover authenticity for underground hip hop. As experimental as we saw the independent rap scene, we imposed restrictive “real” requirements on it, stipulations that included not being too pop oriented or dancey. Genres like folktronica and instrumental hip hop were always sinking towards one another as beatmakers were becoming less influenced by old soul records and finding salvation in Boards of Canada, ambient, and the dance-driven producers across the Atlantic Ocean.
There were some fussy moments as indie rap and electronica acquainted itself with music meant for movement rather than contemplation or meditation. Loden's The Star-Eyed Condition exists as though the past never happened. The presence of Open Mike Eagle, Busdriver, Sole, Dose One and to a lesser degree Ceschi (since he's an outlier more aligned to folk) does not complicate Loden's foray's into robo-electro and maximalist electronica. Music homogenization tends to be a dirty concept, mostly due to Top 40 song smoothies, but in the case of Loden's record it's the realization of a bond in development for a decade, rather than an experiment to see if anyone will notice the dub bass in a country song.
A common ground is at work throughout the record. Loden's earlier material indecisively wanted to be instrumental hip hop and IDM much like Busdriver and Open Mike Eagle were faced with the adaptation of Project Blowed and Sketchbook transforming into Low End Theory. The evolution was demanding they adapt and thus Loden tinkers with robo-sounds and Open Mike Eagle just wrote the catchiest, yet still intelligent, weekend warrior anthem of his career without tarnishing his reputation. Loden's The Star-Eyed Condition has tremendous potential as an introductory piece for people who listen to M83, but would not be aware of Anticon and vice versa. Far from a mess, Loden's production teeters on whimsy and earnest, which elevates his record to a sound without genre-distiniction in which experimentation is not synonmous with avant garde and genre-purists are encouraged to let go.
Loden's The Star-Eyed Condition is out August 20 on Circle Into Square.