Earlier this month, Expressway Yo-Yo Dieting (real name Pat Maher) dropped a 20-minute "mixtape/song cycle" on his Soundcloud. A few weeks later it showed up on FACT's list of best new releases, which is where I stumbled onto it. After listening to it for six days straight, I can tell you it's one of my favorite releases thus far in 2014.
It begins with what sounds like gangsta rap coming out of some mutant womb, all dubby frequencies, garbled rhymes and pulsating low end. It's brooding, trippy and almost threatening in its subversion of standard hiphop production. As Maher mentions in the interview below, the soundscape portrays a sort of nightmare realm between the slo-mo, Promethazine-addled rap DJ Screw pioneered in the '90s and primo-era Bomb Squad audio terrorism.
My love for the hypnagogic qualities of "vaporwave" is quite well-documented, and at times this release flirts with similarly narcoleptic, dreamy atmospheres; but the improvisational element and DIY indifference to fidelity (plus its allegiance to rap, the grittiest of genres) gives the release a singularly homemade, earthy quality.
I contacted Maher via email to ask him a few questions about the release, and he kindly took the time to answer.
How much of the tape is sample-based? Did you produce some of the beats/atmosphere and use a cappellas over the top, or is it entirely samples?
It's pretty much all collage of various stolen items but all the aspects are treated in several ways. I view it as shameless Bomb Squad/Screw worship with a lot of effects and desecration.
How often you hitting up the thrift stores, mang? What's your all-time favorite find?
The thrift stores in Portland are very picked-through, I mainly just grab movies and suits; never found many usable rap CDs. Got a pretty nice unopened Liberace VHS box set the other day.
I read that for one of your other projects, Indignant Senility's Plays Wagner, you used a Wagner tape that you bought on the cheap (I believe you said something about a garbage can full of cassettes.) Are the hiphop tracks you use for Yo-Yo Dieting sourced the same way? I recognize a few snippets here and there, but a lot of it sounds pretty obscure.
I'm really particular about what I sample from and where I get it from. I'm pretty much stuck in the '90s when it comes to hiphop, but I almost never remix songs that I've listened to before. It's an intuitive process that I try not to understand so deeply myself. I try to let the universe bring the right source material to me. I couldn't tell you what 80% of the songs I've used are.
Looks like you've got a few more projects in the pipeline. Any plans for physical releases or are they going to be digital only?
I have physical LPs of both XYYD and Indignant Senility coming out as soon as I finish them and give them to the label. I've been working on a bunch of songs for the past couple years, but I liked the last couple double LPs I did so much that I feel like I need to be picky about what's coming out next.