San Francisco, CA production duo, Blue Sky Black Death have produced tracks for artists like Jus Allah, Sabac Red, Myka 9, AWOL One, Ill Bill, Prodigal Sunn, and Jean Grae among others. Their latest album, Third Party is a full length collaboration with vocalist Alexander Chen of Boy in Static fame.
Hip hop producers that try to cross over into other genres is often a dicey proposition (think Timbaland‘s collaboration with The Hives). In this case, Blue Sky Black Death are known as hip hop producers and they are working with a vocalist who traditional does Postal Service-esque electronic pop. That’s not exactly the biggest stretch in the world. What is surprising about the release is how much Blue Sky Black Death seem to conform to Alexander Chen’s genre rather than bringing more of a hip hop flare to the table.
With the lack of hip hop flare, it is amazing how similar to bands like Owl City Third Party sounds. The album’s opening track and lead single “Carl Sagan” has by far the most hip hop influence. The track mixes hip hop drums with electopop synths while Alexander Chen’s airy pop vocals go over the top. The track is reminiscent of Massive Attack style trip hop.
But “Carl Sagan” is not necessarily indicative of the entire album. Many more songs are along the Postal Service lines than a slick mixture of trip hop and indie pop. This leads to an album that is a little bit bland in my opinion. There are a couple of really great moments (late in the album song, “Rerun” comes to mind) but for the most part, the album is hit or miss.