[Album of the Month] Sharkula & Mukqs - "Prune City"


Sharkula & Mukqs - “Prune City”

(Hausu Mountain)

Most large urban landscapes share similarities - tall buildings, traffic, mass transit, and, of course - street characters - people whose very presence embody the cities that they inhabit. For Chicago, Illinois, Sharkula is that legendary figure - an underground hip hop artist who promotes his craft distributing flyers, selling his CDs on the street, participating heavily in the local scene, and meeting the public face to face.

Musical chaos technician Max Allison, who performs under the moniker of Mukqs, came across Sharkula in a local Chicago eatery and decided to approach him about a possible collaboration. "The real start of the collab happened at Burger King when I walked in and found him a booth, " Max explains, - "I told him i was gonna make him beats, and he was like 'cool.' We ate chicken sandwiches together"

The process of capturing the essence of the shark man on a Hausu Mountain tape began with a mad science session where Mukqs recorded some top-notch electronic pasta, all recorded live. "I wanted to make beats that have 16 bar intros, verses, choruses. So that was my goal. All of these beats were made using only my synths, drum machines, looper, and sampler. Like all my music as Mukqs, the beats were recorded live with no overdubs and without the use of software. This means that in the final takes that ended up being the beats, I'm triggering samples from my Roland 404 sampler as the means of performance. in this case, it was very much not an "improvised" process at all, but deliberately triggering beats after certain periods of time to sketch out the structures of the tracks" What Mukqs was able to accomplish in that session is a selection of some of the finest rhythmic synth, with a perfect blend of bouncing beats, floating clouds of ethereal energies, and spiraling tunnels of mad audio.

The instrumental portion of the album completed, it was time for Sharkula to sink his teeth into the project. During a three hour recording session, the mythical street flaneur spoke his free form raps into being over the thumping alien landscape of the new Mukqs recording. Thus was born Prune City, a bizarre concoction of electronic wizardry and organic urban poetry that strikes a strange balance between wildly original sounds and rap.

Sharkula's live recordings are completely unpredictable. At times bursting with bombastic bravado and street level toilet humor, Sharkula alternates between scattered blocks of free form raps, laughing his scratchy, good-natured laugh, tenderly apologizing for missing lines and complimenting the beats. He is an entirely unconventional performer who cannot be contained, bursting with pure energy and an infectious love of the moment, characterized by a cascading style where he leaps from one concept to another, sometimes only semantically tied, or appearing to utterly disjoint. It's a stream of consciousness from a larger-than-life character, spilled out over the pumping electronic psychopath jazz that hammers around in Mukqs' haunted machines.

Overall, Prune City is a highly listenable release that grows on the listener with each listen. It’s an artistic success that springs forth from originality, creative power, and mutual reverence - delivering a perfect blend of experimental audio spaghetti, squeezed into chunks of swirling hip hop, topped with the disconnected hyper-genius meanderings of the legendary bearded bard of Chicago streets.

Gray Lee