Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Darc Mind

The 90's fucked up when they didn't put out Darc Mind. They were a serious NY duo; with the ultra-deep voiced Kev Rock dropping hard but intelligent rhymes over dark, ominous boom bap production by GM Web D. Together, their style smoothly bridged the gaps between backpacker, thugs and Dead Prez. Unfortunately, we barely heard them.

They had a song called "Visions Of a Blur" on LOUD Records' flagship soundtrack album, Soul In the Hole with a killer bassline that definitely managed to get heads attention despite being placed between many NY giants in their prime, including The Wu-Tang Clan and the solo debut of Big Pun. LOUD also released a promo-only single of theirs called "Outside Looking In," produced by Nick Wiz. But that was it. Darc Mind was on their roster, and they even recorded a full album for them called Symptomatic of a Greater Ill; but it never came out.

Until 2006, when an indie label got in touch with Kev Rock, recovered the masters, and pressed them up as a proper double LP for the first time. Which label? An early venture by Diggers With Gratitude? Or maybe Freestyle Records sounds like a better guess? No, believe it or not, it was Anticon. Pedestrian was actually - like most of us who had the Soul In the Hole tape - a fan since the 90s. He made it happen, and the rest of the album turned out to be exactly what we'd all hoped it would be: just as dope as "Visions of a Blur."  Dark and heady. Smooth yet hard. The album's still available on their site, by the way. I absolutely recommend it.

This isn't the only time Anticon's ventured into this arena, by the way. You know those Grimm Teachaz EPs that Chopped Herring's been putting out? You know, with Son Doobie and all? Well, if you're digging those EPs, you should definitely check out the cassette full-length album Anticon put out of theirs in 2011, also still available on their site.

Anyway, that's only half of this Darc Mind story. Thanks to the buzz around Anticon's release, plus the credibility GM Web D earned under the aliases of X-Ray and King Ceasar (yeah, they're both actually the same guy) producing for MF Doom and the Monster Island Czars, of which he's also a member, Darc Mind reunited and started putting out limited CD-only releases through their website (I think one also came free if you bought their album off of Sandbox or something). And in 2013, Dope Folks pressed up some more of their lost music on vinyl.

Now remember, Symptomatic of a Greater Ill, Soul In the Hole and all that was 1996-1997 era. This six-song EP, called Antediluvian vol. 1 [I assume that means there's a part 2 coming!], is all from 1990-1992. I mean, holy crap, who knew the pair went back that far?!

Well, we sorta had a hint that they went back at least a few years earlier than Soul In the Hole. A couple years ago, Dope Folks released another GM Web D production: the Legion of D.U.M.E. '94 EP. That EP was a sweet combo of the rare Legion of D.U.M.E. 2-song 12" on Darc Mind Records[!], plus six more never-before-released other D.U.M.E. recordings. In fact, Legion of D.U.M.E. consists of both Web D and Kev; the difference is just that it also includes two other members: Prime Time and Scott Free.

But still, Darc Mind material from as far back as 1990 is kind of a mind blower. Two of the songs - "Smooth Wit the Roughness" and "Fine Brown Frame" - are actually from those self-released CDs Darc Mind put out on their own. But this is still their debut on vinyl and the first a lot of us are really getting to hear them. And the other four, as far as I know, have never been released in any capacity.

Anyway, you'll be pleased to know that this material, even though it's way older, still has the same ethos as Symptomatic. Dark, smooth, hard. Kev's younger but basically sounds the same, and GM's production sounds pretty much the same, too; albeit with more recognizable samples than his later work. And "Fine Brown Frame." That song has a lighter, bouncier, more old school feel. It's still good, but it doesn't sound like the rest of their material. Overall, it's just different enough to be fun in a "isn't it fun to hear how they used to sound" kind of way; but similar enough not to disappoint any of their fans.

Like all Dope Folks releases, it's limited to 300 copies, and comes with a cool sticker cover. However, in this instance, there's also a cheaper, limited CD option available only through Darc Mind's Mindbenda site. So the 90's dropped the ball, but the 2000s and 2010s have once again swooped to catch it and score a slam dunk... or something. I'm not good at sports metaphors. All this Darc Mind material is quality stuff.


  1. Great write up Werner.

    That Darc Mind EP on Dope Folks definitely is a winner, one of my favorite releases on the label.

    European heads interested in the "Symptomatic" LP or CD should check, they have it listed for € 12,95 (LP) and € 14,95 (CD).


    S m O O v

  2. Scott Free had a song with DOOM on a soundtrack as well, and Prime Time was one of the original members of KMD w Rodan before the first album. DOPE!