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The Crack Magazine

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Duszt by Jody Bigfoot

‘Duszt’ is a film and album project with spectacular visuals and music combined. It’s inspired by concepts of Daoism, Zen Buddhism and classic Japanese directors such as Akira Kurosawa and Kitano Takeshi. At its heart is an eagerness to keep alive the rebellious roots of hip hop. Yet there’s also a sprinkling of encouragement for spiritual growth, with its strong call for unity. ‘Duszt’ explores subjects ranging from ego in rap, the daily grind of the rat race, the irony of colonising mars before saving our own home, destiny and Dao amongst others...

The LP soundtrack was produced by the epically talented Tandaro, who Bigfoot met in a random reggae Facebook group and later met up with in person at Notting Hill Carnival. His sonic fireworks are paired with an outstanding visual shot by the artist’s long-time friend and collaborator Jonjames Oxberry-Hogg. You’ve probably never seen or heard anything quite like this.

The film opens up with a hauntingly beautiful intro ‘Hataraite’; the tranquillising sounds of water coupled with a trippy brass instrument. Before you know it, you are transported into some pretty badass hip-hop, and you know that the album is well and truly underway.

‘Hataraite’ introduces the all-out killer 808 bass-heavy music that makes up ‘Duszt’. The beat will thud through your entire system, as will Jody Bigfoot’s stand-out vocal delivery and lyrics. There’s rich backing vocals adding depth and warmth throughout the album, as well as various guest vocals, including raps, some of which are in Japanese. This is a luscious fusion of sounds, languages and cultures. The opening of the film to which ‘Hataraite’ is partner, introduces the viewer to the streets of Japan. We go from shots of a deserted tunnel made up of red columns, Japanese architecture and a man sat by a stream playing the instrument we hear, to views from a train.

A quote from Lao Tzu appears on the screen, which includes, amongst others, the words: ‘Nothing is more insidious than possession. Nothing is more dangerous than desire. Nothing is more disastrous than greed.’ This is conscious music; these guys are making a political statement not just writing something that sounds good. But it’s beautiful too and you will naturally be lulled in with the mesmerising film and sound, before ‘Duszt’ then invites you to question society’s norms. If you delve into the meaning behind these tracks there is so much bubbling away under the surface.

Crowded city streets during the opening will contrast with the countryside scenes later on, and there’s a balance between light and darkness as we will see throughout... When Jody’s voice enters the mix, we see him walking the streets of Japan, clad in a suit and cap. He plays himself - this is his comment on the world. He doesn’t need to act. There are scenes of crowded roads as cars pile up in queues and fast motion scenes of the traffic speed by. The film has a pristine clarity to it, which makes for great viewing as we see everything in such great detail. Towards the close of the first track, the sun begins to set on to a zoomed-out shot of the city, before one track melts into another.

Soon, we’re outside of some bright lights in the night-time and Jody makes an entrance on a skateboard. Second tune of ‘Ring Ring’ is a banger. This is an ethereal wake-up call: ‘Ring ring, destiny is calling’. Jody stands still in a crowded street, as passerby race past him. Literally and symbolically grounded; it’s as if he is commenting on things other people don’t take note of. ‘Duszt On A Rock’ is a sultry track with a bass that rattles. There’s some imagery of jellyfish with Jody captured at an aquarium. It adds the quality of something a little extra-terrestrial. He is also within a museum, and once more the lyrics match perfectly, as Jody speaks of being nothing more than dust - we’re all pretty damn insignificant in the grand scheme of things. Where more appropriate to shoot than a museum? There’s a lulling vibe with entrancing snippets of synthesised sounds accompanying the organic sax part.

The film takes a darker turn after this track, with ‘Where Is The Style?’ - Jody is seen along side various skateboarders and a local street dancer, as he is also seen performing live in an underground venue. Standing by graffiti-covered walls, there’s a real grit right here. There’s a ghostly vibe to this track with wobbling synth-line and a contrasting high arpeggiated sound. We 

particularly enjoy the outfit changes going on in this section too - Jody wears an array of attire including a Sponge Bob hoodie, and most often he’s in his signature shades. We feel the frustration being vented in this song as the delivery of the vocal is full of a real sense of angst.

Next enters a new personality - Japanese artist Catarrh Nisin, who delivers a smooth rap for ‘Migi Ni Hidari’, whilst the chorus is sung by artist Numb 'n' Dub in a heavily auto-tuned voice. The overall sense of discovery is omnipresent throughout as we are transported from scene to scene in various ways; sometimes by foot, sometimes by train, at other times by car. We feel truly part of this journey that the artist and filmmaker embarked on in person, and also of the journey Tandaro is very much a part of sonically. Bigfoot raps in Japanese too, showing unison with the local artists involved in ‘Duszt’. Likewise, the Japanese rap in English adds another sense of unification in universal themes of revolution.

A lonesome heart balloon signals an end to the scene and the transition into another - more chilling - setting. Enter the track ‘Hands’, accompanied by images of bondage with the poignant reflection on Bigfoot’s rap as he mimics puppet-like actions. The feeling of control and restriction is powerful through the sinister puppet visuals. A woman bound by ropes signifies the message behind ‘Hands’; with tasteful imagery the raw emotion of the song is wound tighter and tighter around the mind of the onlooker, like an intricate rope knot. The almost sensual cinematography is felt deeply through the inclusion of the track; the lullaby beat that reverberates throughout the scene is almost mind-numbing.

Pan into ‘It’s All Good’. As the sun hangs high above the white houses in a gradient of pink and purple clouds, a beautiful female voice makes a timely appearance. With wording such as ‘sun’ and ‘golden’ the scenes reflect precisely that. The 90s chilled vibes of the track pairs perfectly with the back and forth time-lapse of the amazing Japanese scenery. One of the most remarkable things about the film, and the album combination, is the creative look into another side of Japan, the real, non-touristy elegant side. The enchanting forest and flower scenes add earthy tones to the ever-changing style of the film.

Bigfoot’s rap in ‘Temples’ explodes onto the set like a firework, with his lyrical references to God, and multiple Gods, the temple theme is extremely powerful and culturally wonderful. The transition from ‘Temples’ into ‘Inefable’ is flawlessly smooth, the rhyming words make the rap flow off of the tongue effortlessly. Out of all of the tracks so far, ‘Inefable’ really brings the album and film combo into perfect harmony, with its J-pop undertones and an essence of rap, the style suits both Bigfoot and Tandaro perfectly. A line that stands out in particular is, ‘the force of all the ancient speaks’, this lyric is tremendously commanding as Bigfoot toils with the idea that there are powers more important and even more influential than us in the world around us. That we are minuscule in contrast.

Carrying on down the path of earthy tones, and being at one with nature, ‘Trees’ transports us to another dimension. A dimension in which nature is preserved and rules the earth. The scenes of countless trees play on the title and embraces the thought of a nature filled world. Enter sections of Japanese rap, paired coherently with Bigfoot’s melodical wording. Next, ‘Seed In The Wind’ brings a sense of calm over the imagery with a steel drum beat and a lulling female voice. Even Bigfoot trades his rap for some beautiful singing lines. The track delves into a dream-like state and atmosphere with descriptions of floating over-seas and walking far into the distance. Another rapper adds to the film’s presence, changing it with the inclusion of rocking electric guitar riffs and blinding neon lights. The finale comes bouncing in with ‘Stars’, with traces of J-pop and bright coloured lighting across the immaculate scene, this is a bold and endeavouring ending. Tandaro’s soundtrack is almightily courageous, and the visuals are equally as bold. All in all, a glorious work that the artists should be truly proud of. One word - wow!

Authors: Anna Stephens & Meghan Glover 

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