TRACK REVIEW: “Pyramids” (Frank Ocean Bootleg)

Blue Sky Black Death

Based out of Seattle, Blue Sky Black Death (BSBD) consists of Kingston (Kingston Maguire) and Young God (Ian Taggart). Both Kingston and Young God were beat makers and hip-hop artists throughout the early ‘00s. In 2005, they eventually met up with each other and collaborated on a double album, A Heap of Broken Images, and have since released a number of rap and instrumental hip-hop full lengths.

the duo released Glaciers in December, 2013, and have since coined the term glacial hip-hop to describe their music. After the release of Glaciers, It seems that the their music has taken a more experimental turn, in that it transitions seamlessly from ambient noise, to sugar sweet melodies, to chaotic dissonance, and back. I’m still not exactly sure what glacial hip-hop is, but the neologism seems somehow fitting.

On February 14th, BSBD celebrated their Valentine’s Day by releasing an unofficial remix of Frank Ocean’s “Pyramids.”

The first part of the remix isn’t much different from the original song. It isn’t altered lyrically, rhythmically or melodically, it is just rearranged. It begins about six minutes into the original version. Structurally, BSBD left the song alone. The remix follows the original word for word, beat for beat and note for note for about 1.5 minutes until the section loops back and repeats. The first part of the track ends on Frank Ocean’s chorus, just as it starts hinting at something new about to happen. Distorted hip-hop lines are introduced, which interact with Ocean’s vocals.

It then dissipates and the music pauses. BSBD completely shifts gears, introducing a song that is rhythmically and lyrically different from the previous track.  “We all young ghetto boys, that’s why we act this way,” a line from the UGK (Underground Kingz) song, “Wood Wheel,” is repeated throughout the rest of the track. The song is slowed down to about ½ the tempo. New rhythmic sections interact over the lyrics, which are almost indistinguishable.

The dichotomy between the first half of the song, which is pretty much left alone, and the second half of the song, a UGK song that has been torn apart and made almost unrecognizable, is probably the most interesting part of this remix. I’m not exactly sure what Frank Ocean and UGK have to do with each other, but for some reason it works. Compositionally the track in it’s entirety is risky and unconventional, which is apparently the mantra of this glacial hip-hop duo.

Unfortunately for those of us in the northeast, BSBD is touring pretty much every other part of the country right now. Maybe you can’t see them live, but you can listen to Frank Ocean’s “Pyramids” remix here: