Rapper-composer Material Girl pushes hard in multiple directions on “Drujjha”, creating a matrix of moments that canter between vague and affecting.
Philadelphia artist Material Girl dropped one of last year’s most arresting records with “Tangram”. It refers, in title and content, to an ancient puzzle based around arranging set shapes into patterns. The tracks of Tangram largely took this on board, themselves comprised of miniature compositions and easily visualised in a variety of orders. Follow-up record “Drujjha” might be understood at a glance as ‘Tangram gone pop’. It’s softer, twisted, less heavy with the crunch of sampled loops. However, Material Girl’s focus on melody and contortion seems far more symptomatic of a genre-killing goal than any recent influences.
“Drujjha” is committed to dissolving categories. At the moments where this drive and Material Girl’s proven talents converge blurry explosions appear; on opening track “Material Girl Meets The Devil, Pt. 2” synth tones burn and ring, drums tap away with elegance, and vocals sound absolutely haggard under a fog of reverb. Lyrically it’s a great start; “I was born a dog, all he could say was I’ve made my peace with God” merges well with cultish chants of “Fever’s moving in”. Mixing is sublime, it sounds humid, foreign, and surprisingly inviting. Similar impacts are felt intermittently on “We Both Know It’s True”, where swells of warm sound break apart into desperate voices, reforming organically at the song’s end. Unfortunately these two halves are severed by a passage of high-pitched sine waves, which in an attempt to illustrate reconstruction just end up severely irritating. “Babyfat” is another that falls off the edge a little, struggling to show reason through its immensity.
“Material Girl Meets The Devil Pt. 3” is a welcome reminder of this project’s humanity. Building up with subdued intimacy, the song erupts into drifting calls of “I do what I can”. Rigid trap drums feel like the eye of the storm, such structure seems alien. It’s fittingly unexpected that the album’s most tender moment lands there. The build stretches back into the albums midpoint; “Dogs” is a standout for its incredible aura of decay, evaporating through textures with reckless pulsing energy. As a result, the restoration of order in “Pt. 3” is all the more significant; even when music barely holds together Material Girl is able to take command.
“Drujjha” ends abruptly. It refuses to embrace linearity up until the end, and instead latches onto complication; with this album Material Girl challenges listeners to open up, to see arrangement as the collision, not the placement, of moments. The scale of its risks are such that the highs and lows are felt intensely, and intrigue is absolutely constant. This is another interrogative release from one of the most inventive underground artists around.
Listen to “Drujjha” here.
– Jamie (⅓ @108MICS)