Ever since the Bomb Squad lobbed their first sonic grenades back in the mid ‘80s, building beats designed not to move the body, but rattle the nerves has proven to be powerful creative ground. That notion of art-damaged anxiety hit its peak during the underground boom of the late ‘90s and early ‘00s—an era in which Kyle Austin, then known as High Priest, first appeared, serving panic as a member of Antipop Consortium. In the years since, he’s gone from rapping on and co-producing Antipop’s glitch-jazz masterpieces to making his own mutant bangers—most notably on his unfairly slept-on solo release, Born Identity. Throughout, his work has taken the possibilities of hip-hop composition to their limits, seeming to push a little further each time.
Over the last few years, his instrumental work under the name Hprizm has re-staked his claim to the abstract, cosmic beats that artists like Shabazz Palaces and Flying Lotus have re-popularized—Afrofuturism that puts chronology and genre development on a mobius strip. Catching A Body continues a thread first stitched on 2014’s Kush EP, fusing period-piece beats and chords until they’re unstuck from time and feuding with the tempo. Mood that spreads like smoke takes precedence over flashy production trickery, like the moonscape alienation on “Knitted Crown” or noir that burns holes in its own grainy film on “Dark Liquor.” These are beats that toy with emotions before listeners can even figure out where the loops are going. Not that Catching A Body doesn’t knock—the bone-snap snares on “I’ll Find You” and the Latin-rhythm spasms of “Clearbody” are there to pull in head nods, so the textural details can sink into your nerve endings.