Scene and Heard – CCCXCVI: Sociopath  –  Hagiphonic (reviewed by Dave Franklin)

I have to confess that I don’t cover too much dance, hip-hop or rap music on this site. It isn’t that I have anything against such genres, it is just that most of the things that come my way from the grassroots of those scenes seem to follow the same mumbled, trap beat driven, self-aggrandising lines and when you have heard, dissected and written about one, you pretty much end up writing the same review in different ways over and over again for everything that follows.

But that is exactly why Sociopath by Hagiphonic stands out from the pack. Taking the art of sampling to its logic conclusion, the song is a weave of spoken word verses and infectious choruses, spacious beats and warped electronica and there is a strange innocence, a naivety even, that runs through both the song and the video. But it is a deliberate naivety and its simplicity makes it all the more effective and the strange juxtapositions that run through everything is strangely beguiling as you never really know where it is going to go next, which sonic fork in the road it will follow or which unexpected twist or turn it will throw your way.

In a way it harks back to the early days of hip-hop and electro pop and the dance fuelled experiments that the new technology was ushering in as punk faded away and kids from the wrong side of the tracks started turning these new possibilities to their will and invented their own, new genres from the bottom up. But it also seems to be striding into its own bright future and it is this blend of old and new, this continuous loop that it suggests that is the most intriguing.

Also, like those early pioneers it seems to have something to say, though it cloaks its message well so that you can either take the song at face value or chose to dig a little deeper. In short it is a fascinating track, one that seems to ask more questions than it answers, one that connects the dots throughout the history of urban and dance music and even points the way towards musical waypoints yet to be discovered. For such a strange and simple song it seems to have quite a hold on the listener and that, of course, is the art of it.

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