Sunday, November 12, 2023

On the Mic: Luke Sick, Controlled By Gamma Light

Aw yeah, it's about that time of year again, and Luke Sick is back with a new solo album on Megakut Records.  It's called Tacked Out In the Gamma Light, and produced entirely by the homey QM.  I have to confess, even after listening closely to the album, which uses the phrase in the opening track, I'm not exactly sure what he means by the gamma light.  Stage lights maybe?  Or he does have a line that goes, "convulse, turn into the Hulk."  I mean, I feel like it's an Ultramagnetic MCs reference.  "Technic twelve hundreds are combined to rotate swiftly left to right.  On the mix: Red Alert, controlled by gamma light" is famously from "Bait."  But I'm not sure what Kool Keith meant by it either.  Maybe nobody really does, and maybe that's all part of the charm.

Outside of a few mysterious phrases like this, Tacked Out is an otherwise utterly uncomplicated album.  Ten short vocal tracks and a final instrumental, all solo songs except for one quick guest verse by QM, which immediately recalls the energy of their past On Tilt tapes.  Otherwise, Luke's basically just going off on loose topics of MCing, smoking and kicking it with the crew to create attitude and atmosphere: "arrived at the spot with a crispy-ass twenty, '89 mentality, got 'em pinchin' like a penny.  But hand me the overweight fluffy for a good custy, Buddhahead Buckethead with the bud leaf.  Before I spark it, 'cause the market's hella dangerous, gotta smell check and make sure it ain't angel dust. Suckaz can't hang wit us, lames is just ridin' on the tails of the coat, 'bout to get kicked in the throat."  Hell, the song titles alone tell you all you'll need to know: "The Beer Is Cold," "Blunts Upon a Time," "The Mess Is Yours (The Rest Is Ours)."

And the production shares the same mentality: simple yet deceptively effective, short loops over tight beats using samples you won't recognize.  Two tracks feature live bass played by someone named Joe Nobriga, which does give them a little more of an organic feel when you really pay attention, but you wouldn't know it was live instrumentation if it wasn't in the liner notes.  If it wasn't clear, that's a compliment.  It's all tightly calculated to keep you nodding along to Luke's words, although there are a couple extra-catchy tracks at the end of the album that'll steal your attention.  "Bust Y'all" has some extra heavy bass and a fun mash-up of Big Daddy Kane and Joeski Love quotes for the hook.  "Troopin' Thru the Venue" features a wild, religious-sounding vocal sample looped through the whole song.  And "All the Hustlers" is an especially smooth way to close out the show.

Tacked Out is available on cassette only, limited to 100 copies, and comes as a cool looking orange tape with a full-color fold-out J-card.  It's already sold out on Megakut's bandcamp page, but as of this writing, there are still a few available on QM's.

Now if you're reading this thinking, gee, just one album?  Hasn't Luke come out with like, four or five albums every other time you've posted about him in the last couple years?  Oh yeah.  Since we last checked in, he's also released a new album with Bad Shane (their second after Rogue Titan) called Woofer Crust on cassette, limited to 100 copies, as well as a new vinyl EP (limited to 250 copies) called P.O.A., due out later this month.  There's also an all new, second LP with Wolfagram called Garshas available from Iron Lung, 350 on traditional black and 150 on lime green vinyl.  And there's a new CCCRRCCSSLLRRKKRRSSS album, which is a largely instrumental project Luke is part of, but does also feature some vocals by him, on limited edition CD (apparently only 25 copies), plus a shorter EP version on cassette, limited to just 20 copies.  So don't worry; he's not showing any signs of slowing down.  I do wish some of these limited editions weren't quite so limited, though.

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