I have read a couple of reviews for Landmark and every review starts by making some statement about Awol One‘s voice or unorthodox lyrical prowess. I wanted to start off with something a little different but it is difficult when dealing with such an interesting character. To not address Awol One first would be like addressing the production of “Shimmy Shimmy Ya” before addressing that Ol’ Dirty Bastard is one crazy mofo. Because on The Landmark, Awol One really seems like one crazy mofo.
There are two things that are striking with Awol One. First is his voice. It reminds me of E from Eels mixed with Mellow Gold-era Beck. His voice is low and gravely; sometimes it sounds as though it is being chopped and screwed it is so low and slurred. The truth is that is just Awol One’s unique voice.
The second striking feature of Awol One is his unorthodox style: sometimes he seems to do some Tom Waits-esque singing, other times he does some Buck 65-style slow rapping, and other times he just goes crazy on the mic. Like at the end of “Perfect Opposites”, Awol One seems to settle down into a trance repeating the phrase “only you can change the world” over and over until suddenly a switch flips within him. He says “only you can squish a squirrel until there is blood and it runs out and its eyeballs and its brain squirts all over the wall…” and the mad ranting goes on. But it really comes out of nowhere which is what makes it shocking.
I would be remiss however to just talk about Awol One the entire review and not mention his partner in crime, Canadian producer Factor. The production on the album sets the perfect mood. From tracks like “Don’t Be Afraid” whose instrumental sounds like the end credits to a James Bond movie to “People On Drugs” that sounds like a slowed down version of Phoenix, the production is spot on for the majority of the album.
The major problem I have with the album is that occasionally it is too experimental. Awol One is so unpredictable that it leads to huge inconsistency in the album in quality of vocals not only song-to-song but even within the same song. With that said, I must say that I do largely enjoy the album if not for the fact that you are consistently on the edge of your seat wondering what will come next out of Awol One’s mouth.