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Luthorist - Hueco Mundo Music Album Reviews

The solo debut from one of the Dublin rap group NUXSENSE’s core emcees, backed by ghostly beats from producer Sivv, represents the clearest iteration of the group’s aesthetic yet.

Has a rap group ever boasted broader geographical roots than NUXSENSE? The collective’s various origin stories cover more terrain than a Mission: Impossible movie—four continents, at least. Living and thriving in Dublin, a bunch of school kids drawn together by their shared immigrant experiences and a love of hip-hop became a defining force in the Irish capital’s youth culture. Recent years have seen the city progress into a more multicultural arena, and a group like NUXSENSE—with their blend of region-neutral sounds, gloriously garish street fashion, belligerent live shows, and diverse backgrounds—represent a diamond-clear expression of the cultural exchange that’s happening in the city’s small venues and homemade studios.

Highly visible in Dublin’s local rap scene NUXSENSE may be, but as recording artists, the group—emcees Luthorist, Jehnova, Prophet Goon, Yung Pe$o, Bogzy, and Al-i, plus beatmaker Sivv—has been content to drop loose tracks here and there. (See the easily chantable crew-rap tune “Reign,” or Jehnova’s journey down an Earl-esque rabbit hole, “Striped Pyjamas”). Luthorist’s solo album represents the clearest iteration of the group’s cracked sonic philosophy. Hueco Mundo is 24 minutes of bugged-out bars and soil-noir production that rings with its own languid kind of beauty. And though the hooks may be softer than the material in NUXSENSE’s Adidas track pants, they do stick.

The record opens with a next-station announcement familiar to anyone who rides Dublin’s tram network, the Luas. It’s about the only evidence of the record’s true birthplace. On Hueco Mundo, the sound of public transit snatches you into Luthorist’s alternate vision of the city. In the Manga series Bleach, Hueco Mundo is an alternate dimension of infinite nights and never-ending white deserts. Similarly, Luthorist’s world is one of eternal twilight, but his stoned stylings evoke images of a hazy, 4 a.m. stumble down a shadowy street of smoky gutters and neon lights.

Much of the warped atmosphere comes down to producer Sivv, who blesses all the beats with his hushed, trance-inducing synths and eerie electronica. On “Astral,” Luthorist sips on juice and gin, that classic rap nectar. But Sivv’s swirling sci-fi keys sound like the bar is on one of Neptune’s moons. “Wafer” features a spooky synth flutter that’s reminiscent of Lil Wayne’s “Lollipop,” but it’s matched with music-box plinks and familiar cellphone bleeps (one of Sivv’s signatures). Bringing together so many odd, potentially incompatible elements into one of the album’s cheeriest beats encapsulates his mean ear for loops and instinct for assembling them.

On the mic, Luthorist proves a brilliant foil for Sivv’s languid vibes. The rapper, who is of Brazilian descent, has an penchant for listless vocals, slowing his voice to a deliberate crawl, sometimes seeming to opt out of all consonants to let his flow run like liquid metal around the beats. See how he twins his speech with a screwed-down vocal on “Prism” for maximum druggy effect. Over the twinkling keys of “Tokio,” Luthorist name-drops to a certain friendly phantom: “Moving like a ghost, I’m feeling like Casper.” When he tunes his voice to its most wavy, Luthorist really does sound a specter: translucent, like he’s disappearing into the walls. It’s a voguish sound, delivered by very young men who are channeling juvenile energy and borderless creativity into a new age of Irish art unlike anything before it. That’s something worth celebrating. Let the new generation of kids reign.

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