Martin Smith – LOST: The Infernal Mixtape
Artist: Martin Smith
Album: LOST: The Infernal Mixtape
Type: Full-length (LP)
Release date: 19 March 2018
Label: TKX Vault
- Digital download (TKX Vault, 2018)
Recommendation: ✂ (“Since I Blew Up”, “Blood in Da Club”, “PSA to Soundcloud Rappers”, “Smithin Da Club”)
LOST: The Infernal Mixtape closed the second run of TKX Vault several months after the label’s penultimate album. Although originally ending at a run of fifty with Hong Kong Express’s final self-titled release in 2016, the label briefly opened in the summer of 2017 for a string of nine releases plus Martin Smith’s send-off mixtape. LOST was billed as the end of the Chesumasuta brand and as a semi-return album for Martin Smith, a self-professed anime nerd and “loser” from the American Midwest who states that he pretends to be a futuristic pop star through his music. Despite a mild-mannered middle-aged appearance, Smith’s music under his own name is anything but, often incorporating extremely distorted hardcore hip-hop that’s not too far removed from hardvapour.
In context of Martin Smith’s history (and, by extension, that of TKX Vault) in sample-based music toward the beginning of their career, one would be forgiven for thinking that LOST is distorted samples from extant hip-hop music. Sunbleach sure did – our initial impression of the album upon its March 2018 release called it “an ECCOJAMS/hardvapour hybrid, utilizing the pitch/tempo-screw of ECCOJAMS but with the beat-heavy and distorted electronica of hardvapour”. While not inaccurate in terms of affect, that blurb implies that LOST is a plunderphonics work – and closer listening (plus some Google searching lyrics) can tell you very clearly that it’s not. In fact, LOST is all original material, featuring a number of producers and collaborators such as DJ Alina, Holy$wagg, EIGHTXNIGHTS, and Pyravid – some of whom have been given “corrupted” names like Drunken Pyravid and Stoned Pyravid. Backing tracks are industrial hip-hop/trap beats, but there’s a few surprises such as “Blood in Da Club”, with effects that sound like black metal. All of these disparate influences interpreted through barbaric beats bears resemblance to Death Grips, and that is not an idle comparison.
LOST utilizes hardcore hip-hop braggadocio to an absurd extreme. Over half of the songs talk about club dancing, drugs, and sex with not a few bitches. However, LOST also incorporates a number of references to the Martin Smith/Chesumasuta and TKX Vault mythos as a whole underneath the hyper-distorted bass and beats. Smith’s obsession with his self-image and his understanding that he really is just some loser guy comes up on “Smithin Da Club”. In the past, Smith claimed to be the creator of the Flappy Bird app game, and many of his (now deleted) Tweets have referenced the game with slogans like “we flap”. Flapping is referenced all over the album from “I Got the Heat” to “Flapstyle”. LOST also references raccoons and drinking blood, both of which were part of the early-2018 Dream Catalogue social media ARG that claimed the organization had been taken over by sentient raccoons and that new label head Henry Moonchild (a.k.a. Henry Fucking Moonchild) had dispatched the raccoons and drank their blood from a chalice. The album ends with a cover of “Like Spinning Plates” from Amnesiac by Radiohead – a surprising subversion of the last nineteen tracks.
In this way, LOST – in all its incredible strangeness – acts as a snapshot into TKX Vault, Dream Catalogue, and artistic force HKE with the tons of in-references and in-jokes. It’s a strange way to close the Vault again (especially compared to the reflective Hong Kong Express), but it fits well with the themes of corruption and hedonism that typified those last ten albums. If you’re weirded out and confused, then don’t worry – you’re doing it right.
1. Lost – (1:25)
2. I Got the Heat (prod. Alina V) – (1:57)
3. Since I Blew Up (feat. Drunken Pyravid x Dirty Mane; prod. wosX) – (4:31)
4. I’m Drinkin Blood from a Chalice – (1:22)
5. We Gettin Fucked Up 2Nite (prod. Alina V) – (2:37)
6. Why? – (3:00)
7. Devlish Shit (feat. Stoned Pyravid x Lil Taka x HC420 x Yung Flapzilla x Dirty Mane; prod. Stoned Pyravid) – (3:41)
8. Four Seasons (feat. Holy$wagg) – (2:06)
9. Island (prod. Richi Raccoon) – (1:21)
10. We Da Main Event Mafia (feat. Yung Flapzilla The Albatross) – (2:15)
11. Blood in Da Club (prod. Mornium Lucirduk Judeorn) – (2:36)
12. PSA to Soundcloud Rappers (Yung Flapzilla The Albatross Promo) – (1:38)
13. Don’t Reply to My Tweets (prod. Baby Sandtimer) – (0:27)
14. Hotel – (2:30)
15. Get Hyper (prod. EIGHTXNIGHTS) – (1:34)
16. Neo Tokyo 3000 (prod. BLKBLT x Lord MU) – (3:02)
17. Smithin Da Club (feat. Lil Taka) – (2:17)
18. Run Da Game 2020 (feat. Yung Flapzilla The Albatross) – (3:18)
19. Flapstyle – (0:54)
20. Like Spinning Plates – (2:07)