Absorb the Orb
by Chad Beck
It’s time to kick back, light up and bring the subwoofers out of retirement, The Third Frame are back with another disc full of headtrips, laugh-inducing rhymes and more sticky green than you can shake an (incense) stick at.
Not unlike Kool Keith, one of the band’s heroes, The Third Frame like to draw their listeners into an entirely alternate universe, one where they can get sci-fi silly without detracting from their buoyant beats and charm. And therein is the key to The Third Frame. Their brash charisma is palpable, with MCs Ry and Deluxe breaking through speakers like a couple of lovable knuckleheads at a party about to get out of control.
It’s not for everyone; hearing these boys spout off about how much they love the “dank,” “gamma green,” “nugs” and getting “chiefed” is bound to rub more than a few the wrong way. The Third aren’t really looking to be associated with teetotalers anyway, so throw Absorb The Orb in the changer and prepare to get socked.
The first thing one notices when first spinning Absorb The Orb is how much better it sounds than The Third’s debut from last year. Orb reeks of finely tailored mixes, performances and style. Unlike the debut, Orb sizzles with all sorts of studio chicanery and sonic treats. Right from the beginning, Orb beckons the listener to its aural party. “Chief” gets things going with helium drenched voices asking about “the drug problem,” then resolves into four minutes of Deluxe and Ry giving their humorous answers. “Futuristick” and “Why” also make good use of vocal effects, twisting words from one end of the sound spectrum to the other. It definitely gives the Third an alien sound, turning Ry and Deluxe into little green men sent to earth to “Get Loud.”
The time spent in the studio recording and arranging Orb paid off nicely, with The Third showing more of a sonic palette than a lot of hip-hop acts are currently working with. DJ Akshun, especially, has matured from the first disc to Orb, incorporating a wide range of breaks and melody within his campy old-school style.
As usual, the best part of The Third are the wacky, and sometimes juvenile, lyrics. Tracks like “Hurtz” and “Brewz” get by mostly on one liners and rhetorical zingers. Both Deluxe and Ry sound convincing, having learned somewhere along the way that the studio is just as an important place to “perform” as is the studio. When Deluxe sprays out blips of monologues like “Don’t even bother bro/ if you got dank then share it/ man you can spare it/ break manicure and prepare it” (“Zone Too”) it’s nearly impossible not to smile.
Even more “out there” is Ry-Guy, giving a constant barrage of demented rhymes via a voice that sounds scratched and rough, like an ember is forever lodged in his esophagus. It only makes it better when he spouts “sex is fine, but dank is better” (“Sexxxy”) or any number of the obscene linguistic gymnastics performed on the ripe, Aerosmith-influenced, hidden track. Aside from a few unnecessarily repetitive choruses (“Why” and “Zone Too” both go on a bit long) and one track that feels completely out of place (the R&B flavored “Ride”), Absorb The Orb is a very satisfying album. It’s been amazing to watch the Third Frame leap and bound from their raw debut to this sonic achievement; my guess is that their next one will bring tears to all of our eyes.
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