B L A C K I E: Wilderness of North America

When B L A C K I E showed up on the local indie-rock and underground-rap scenes, Houston was pretty impressed. The MC/producer born Michael LaCour twists the laws of the metronome into abstract beats to back his equally oddly timed lyrics. The formula is impressive and different, and LaCour's live performances only add to the intensity: He jumps off speakers, runs up walls and walks all over the venue (while singing). But as his debut album Wilderness of North America proves, shock and awe won't work forever. Booming opener "That's Right," arguably Wilderness's strongest track, is B L A C K I E at his best: a well-crafted sonic mash-up of samples, synth bleeps and bloops and sporadic drum tracks. "Big Big Jokes Jokes" follows, with LaCour's Biz Markie vocals unspooling a slowed-down musical rant: "I don't even jam rap / I listen to jazz, man." The speedy "Regrets of an Average African American Amateur Drug Lord" continues this fast-then-slow trend, but after about track five or six, things start to fade out — including listeners' attention spans. Wilderness trails off in a wilderness of uninteresting beats and rambling lyrics. Four or five tracks are solid, but the rest seem to be afterthoughts, counting too much on spaced-out sounds and distortion. Here's hoping B L A C K I E's future efforts capture the frenetic energy of his stage performances instead of drifting off into the same outer space his sounds seem to come from.

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