Reviewed by Ian Phillips.
By Backxwash, UglyHag Records 2021.
Ashanti Mutinta is a Zambian/Canadian rapper/producer, and this album is the first work that I’ve heard from her.
Imagine hardcore/heavy metal/death metal and industrial grunge all mixed together with some amazing rap intertwined through it and you’ll get some idea of what to expect from this incredible album.
Regular readers will know of my struggles to come to grips with hip-hop and rap.
I find it a musical genre that is often impervious to my inquisitions.
I also find that it mostly lacks melodic elements and it’s narrow in its expression.
None of that is relevant when it comes to Backxwash’s album.
She has produced an album that is often harrowing and confronting but above all it is uncompromising.
The 10 tracks present a dystopian vision of a warped, demented, and twisted world with Backxwash being the goddess of chaos, distortion, and dissonance.
Despite the bleakness of the imagery, I found the album strangely alluring, even liberating.
Musically there is an amazing array of sounds and influences mixed to create the effect that Backxwash is after.
The track 666 starts with musical elements from her Zambian heritage in the opening sections and as we traverse our way through we move into an aggressive rap before ending with an ethereal gospel choir.
Backxwash has employed the services of a talented group of guest musicians including, Surgeryhead on Wail of the Banshee; Ada Rook on the brilliant title track I Lie Here Buried With My Rings and My Dresses; Sad13 & Ada Rook in Songs of Sinners; and Michael Go in Burn To Ashes.
The opening track deserves special mention.
The Purpose of Pain introduces us to her sadistic/fetishized world with a short, looped, dissertation about the purpose of pain, that progressively overlaps until the words become jumbled and the meaning confused.
It’s an effective intro to a world few of us would willingly choose to enter but few can resist peeking at.