Aesop Rock’s criticism of corporations continue: “Integrated Tech Solutions” Review
Aesop Rock dropped his latest album, “Integrated Tech Solutions,” on Nov. 11. Rolling into his ninth full length release (ten with the inclusion of 1998’s “Music For Earthworms”), Aesop Rock continues his legacy of dense lyrics and amazing production quality.
Though not quite a concept album, “ITS” is themed around a smarmy sort of corporate-ese often lampooned by artists such as Lemon Demon. The album’s intro, “The ITS Way” is framed as an ad centered around meaningless buzzwords and corporate-ese. The whole experience is reminiscent of the portrayal of Aperture Science in 2012’s “Portal 2;” vapid business jargon hiding a dark secret. The intro ends on a Micro-machines style disclaimer culminating in one of my favorite lyrics of the year, “ITS is not a cult.”
This album is jam packed with some of the most creative wordplay Aesop has put out since “Daylight,” with intricate double entendre and careful metaphor. The real hat trick, however, is how approachable this album is, unlike the aforementioned “Daylight,” no longer are listeners left scratching their heads over whatever a “deteriorating cenobite pendragon” represents. Aesop gets his point across more clearly than ever without sacrificing depth.
In the song “By The River,” a song that swells with sunny afternoons, the most complex it gets is a fleeting reference to Lichtenberg figures, a form of electrical discharge that traces out paths like rivers.
“Aggressive Steven” is a later track on the record, but it hits just right. The ballad of an encounter with the mental health crisis in America, Aes uses his wordplay to point out the injustice of the legal system and the lack of state help for people suffering from mental illness.
The best track on the album is a short, two minute spoken word interlude called “On Failure,” in which Aes paints a picture of his relationship with Vincent Van Gogh and the term failure. It’s a really touching piece of wisdom about the label of failure.
For any fan of underground hip hop, modern poetry, or rivers, I can’t recommend this album highly enough. While you’re loading up your preferred music streaming service, give the music videos a watch. Though not as well made as the tunes, they certainly are worth your time with scrolling “ITS” propaganda sprinkled throughout every one of them.