Towards the end of Klaus Layer’s last album, Restless Adventures, we had a short interlude comprising of a man strumming in harmony with the nearby birdsong. Then a voice yells from afar, ignored at first by the man whose serenity remains undisturbed. A few yells later though and he irately snaps out of his meditative jamming. It could easily have passed listeners by without much thought, but give it consideration and you’ll likely agree that it spoke to the themes of that record concerning nature and our diminishing tether to it.
Society Collapse is no less conceptual with its titular theme, and although instrumental personification has been present in Hip-Hop since forever — (whether it’s bleak drum/piano loops reflecting politically forsaken neighborhoods and the vices they foster, or electric-boogaloo-ready party jams) – Klaus’ knack for it is particularly commendable on this record.
But for all its “Future Shock”, Klaus isn’t entirely portraying a vision from 2000AD on this record. Pockets of lucidity open up amongst otherwise storming instrumentation to keep things afloat and place progression over regression. “What A Day” and “Search” noticeably limber up the listening with more uplifting strings and tempos filling out the drum hits, with “Lalala” being altogether celebratory.
Interestingly, “Faust” seems to capture the polarity of the record’s concerns simultaneously, with its melody sitting on a fragile line between forlorn and hopeful, amplifying each feeling rather than neutralizing.
As always, the above is purely subjective, and if you just want to listen to beats, Society Collapse has plenty of competent knot-rockers and vibes and stuff. Raps too. The album is rounded off by two great vocal tracks from Hex One and Kaan featuring signature lung endurance and word play that necessitates and rewards re-listens.