Charles Laney presents a unique wild style on the hyperactive geometric hip-hop of “Midnight & Lion (Studio Version)”. Though rooted in a futuristic hip-hop/electro flavor, he incorporates a wide slew of styles within the mix, running the gamut from gabber to funk to industrial to footwork all with a distinct sense of play. Exploration of the sound matters a great deal for these tracks virtually burst at the seams. An unrestrained spirit of gleeful abandon and outright chaos defines much of the work. Best of all his vocals and fiery flow match this general sense pure unpredictably, for his verses virtually bounce off the walls further adding to this unhinged sensibility.
The extreme intense focus of the tracks alongside the breathless storytelling recalls some of Danny Brown’s most abstract output, for there is that similarity in terms of pushing boundaries. For many of the tracks, he employs a kaleidoscopic mixture of electronic pulses that brings to mind Kid 606’s plunderphonic take, for the pieces have a cut-up, distorted, and distended quality to them. Everything here constantly surprises, and his ability to mix groove with experimentation feels completely original.
Elastic rhythms emerge on the powerful triumphant opener “Oma”. A dazed, hazy atmosphere on “Potent Love Potion” has a tenderness with it, featuring some brittle electronic vamps that have an ancient, almost video-game adjacent spirit. Various pieces of verses filter on with the fast-paced race as “Cool Girl” unfurls at a breakneck pace. Footwork takes shape on “That Work” while the sun-drenched melody has a soothing quality to it. With “Long Gone” there are so many bursts of energy behind it. On “Dressed To Kill” there is a razor-sharp clarity to the track that cuts to the bone. Elements of jungle and ambient mix together on the album highlight, the blissed-out “I’ve Got Nothing Left” where the evolution of the sound has a cinematic quality.
Quite industrial with its intense beats is the churn of “Rock & Roll”. With a hint of glamor comes “Designer Beauty” as he incorporates an eerie form of glam into the mix. The fragile beats of “Fire With Fire” gives the song a visceral physicality. The unease of “Rock & Roll (Part II)” uses the minimalism as a form of intensity, with his vocals brought front and center. “Midnight In the Morning” shifts unpredictably for there is a bit of urgency right at the periphery of the sound. Effortlessly closing things off is the joyous “Lord of the Crowns”.
“Midnight & Lion (Studio Version)” shows off Charles Laney’s uncanny ability to push the concept of rap forward into a futuristic, shimmering, and abstract sound.