Chicago producer Zavala teams up with Seattle rapper Onry Ozzborn to form Dark Time Sunshine. The group’s official debut, Vessel combines psychedelic production with esoteric rap lyricism to create a remotely unique sound.
Rarely has a duo brought such a mixture of ingredients to the table. Zavala’s production has elements of EL-P, Crystal Castles, and Black Moth Super Rainbow. Very rarely does Zavala’s beats resemble traditional hip hop. Perhaps the closest they come is on “Run”, the sample of Rev Run‘s vocals. But Zavala’s unique production is not the only reason the group is garnering comparisons to underground hip hop stalwarts like Comapny Flow, Onry Ozzborn’s lyrical prowess has the same unique approach. Ozzborn’s lyrics remind me of Aesop Rock. Although it seems like he simply is rapping non sequiturs, the lyrics are more picaresque snippets with loosely similar themes. Unfortunately, Ozzborn’s voice is not nearly as strong as Aesop Rock’s. His voice reminds me more of Buck 65. It’s deep and he remains relatively cool throughout his flows.
The album’s lead single is “Primor”. “Primor” makes sense as the lead single since it has the most star power of any track on the album. The track features Aesop Rock, P.O.S., PeeGee 13, and DJ Zone. The track might also be one of the most accessible tracks on the album. The production reminds me of MF Doom mixed with Madlib.
The album’s main problem is how inaccessible it is. Clearly, the album is not supposed cartering to the mainstream audience but in some cases it seems to purposely defy people to enjoy it. “View Items 2” has a beat that is so overly complex that its hard to pay attention to any rapping that’s going on over it. Unfortunately that is something that is encountered again and again on Vessel.