posted by Mike
April 2016

The anticipation of this album among the Gramatik fanbase has been massive. Denis Jašarević aka Gramatik along with a stacked line-up of collaborating producers and vocalists put into perspective what a matured approach to instrumental/electronic production looks like nowadays. With a wide inventory of sounds, Epigram explores themes that audibly give you a new perception.

The opening track "Tempus Illusio", meaning “the illusion of time”, resembles an independent filmscore that Gramatik and Luxas put out some months ago.  These sounds set a spacey, ominous opening that disallowed me to perceive any anticipation. From my interpretation, it comments on how we live our lives attached to an illusion and form many norms around it.

This opener dies out and there’s a few seconds of nothing.

The chopped brass samples and snare shuffles kick in from the track “Satoshi Nakamoto” and the vocals by Adrien Lau clearly reading: “Ayo, fuck yo’ shoebox money”.  Satoshi Nakamoto is the father of Bitcoin -- an encrypted, international, incorruptible currency made famous on digital black markets.  You get a face full of brass and an amazing flow thanks to the guitar picking and a full-bodied hiphop beat. Not to mention the vocal tag-team who made this one badass opening track.

Speaking of badass, “War of the Currents” is reminiscent of the #DigitalFreedom era of Gramatik.  This track tells a story of Nikola Tesla literally flipping the script on the establishment. When it came to creating a standard electricity system, it was Tesla’s alternate current (AC) vs. Thomas Edison’s direct current (DC). Edison made multiple attempts to discredit Tesla using his money and power (no pun intended).   Long story short: Tesla overcame the propaganda shitstorm making alternate current the standard.

What I like so much about this album is the interpretation inside of it, which you see in “Native Son” and “Native Son Prequel”.  Both tell a story of a story, Native Son, which is about a man whose perception of reality is shaped by socioeconomic conditions of the impoverished south side of Chicago in the 1930s.  This track’s been released for some time, featuring Orlando “Leo” Napier and Raekwon of Wu-Tang on the vocals.  My impression is that this song largely tells a story about being a product of your environment, like the book, and the forces within that you have no control over.

Conversely, I get the impression that “Native Son Prequel” comments on the powerful upper class, who essentially control the margins between the rich and the poor.  Leo Napier has acquired a well-earned reputation among us GRiZ/Gramatik fans for his vocal serenading. His talent is fully on display here, if you ask me.  The vocals, generally ill beats, and the soulful e-keyboard undertones made this one of my favorite track on the album.

Room 3327 is like a version of “Orchestrated Incident” lathered up in dope sauce. Being a sucker for its uptempo and passively heavy glitch-hop snare synths, I have to say it’s intensely elegant. Nikola Tesla has a recurring presence in this album -- this time in the form a smooth, yet raw instrumental track. In case you didn't know, Room 3327 is a room in the New Yorker Hotel, which displays a memorial of Tesla.

It seems that “Eat Liver!” is simply a remix of the song originally by Laibach. This version, however, is Gramatikally superior due to its crisp heaviness and alternation into a half-time beat. Perhaps the original track was simply put through a filtration process and came out funkier and much more doper than before.  Sorry if you’re a fan of the original.

I first heard of Chicago-native ProbCause when the song "Neon Dreams" dropped featuring Lowtemp’s space magicians, Exmag.  Basically, I am happy that Probmatik is a thing and have kept my eye on his recent album "Drifters".  I heard this track dropped live during the Epigram EU tour and have been buzzing on it since.

Speaking of tracks that smashed it live, “Corporate Demons” is a funhouse of distorted bass. What I like about Gramatik’s style is he flawlessy pulls off tunes in both the broken and steady beat.  It breaks off half-way through and re-builds back up into uber-heaviness that kind of leaves you exhausted.

Thankfully, liquefied ambience cradles you to the album’s end by the instrumentally-talented Russ Liquid.  I’ve come to know Russ Liquid’s sound as experimental, yet serene with melodies that induce goosebumps.  One can have enough awesome packed into one track, which provides for a perfect ending to the album.

What’s been exhibited in Gramatik's live shows over the years is in full force with the variety of instrumentals and impeccable production. I loved every millisecond of it.

If you made it this far, thanks for reading my interpretation of this album.  It was written by a fan for the fans.  Feel free to get in touch and let me know what you thought: [email protected]

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