Onry Ozzborn and Zavala.

What the lovers of continental philosophy love most are ruptures, breaks, discontinuities. When we see one, we can't get enough of it. The rupture is a new beginning, a new system or event. We like ruptures because they remind us that things do really change, that the new is also always possible. My love of continental philosophy therefore explains a good part of my love for Onry Ozzborn's latest album, Vessel—it is a rupture in a long and prolific (at least by local standards) career.

Vessel is the second album by Dark Time Sunshine—the first, Believeyoume, was released late last year. The rapper, Onry (who calls himself Cape Cowen in this project), is of course from Seattle, and the producer, Zavala, is from Chicago's underground. The two first met two or so years ago in Portland, Oregon, and the result of this meeting was a rupture in Onry's sound and presentation—judging from Zavala's work on the album Canciones Modernas, however, Dark Time Sunshine is for him not a break but a continuum: slamming beats, lush dissonances, swirling melodies.

The break seems to have everything to do with one side of Dark Time Sunshine, Onry's side, and it has two parts. One part of it is the end of a decade-long fabric of the themes, tones, and techniques established and radiated by the numerous members of Oldominion. After One, Oldominon's first work, Onry continued in his solo albums and other projects, such as Grayskul and Gigantics, and he continued Oldominon's brand of gothic hiphop—dread, vampires, cathedrals, nocturnal gloom, sexual danger, mental disorders.

Dark Time Sunshine bring those nightmares to an end (or at least reformulate them for a new situation) and begin a journey toward the pleasures of the sun and cascading colors.

The other part of the break forms an almost clean line between what is masculine and what is feminine. Vessel is unlike Onry's earlier work because it is not masculine. The things we associate with femininity (life, warmth, care, generation, generosity, euphoria—"You can find me hiding in the sunshine") dominate the sound and presentation of this work. The things that are masculine (alienation, anger, aggression, deracination, dislocation, existentialism, death, domination—"This is my world") dominated the sound of Onry's Oldominion-related recordings.

The women on Vessel (they appear on eight of the album's 16 tracks) are at once motherly and sensual; the image we get from the sound of their voices is similar to that image of Natalie Merchant on the cover of Motherland—a curvy woman, her ripe knees, the leaf-covered grass, a basket of fruit, the fruit-burdened branches, the beams of life-giving sunlight. This is the land of Vessel—the land of abundance.

Although Onry's raps are still dark and convoluted, they are not about degeneration but regeneration. These tough and thorny rhymes flower blackly beneath a mother of sunlight. "I'm Mary Magdalene, so now everything will be different," sings Reva DeVito at the end of "Defender." Mary, the female disciple, as mother of all mothers, mother who washed his feet with her hair, mother of all motherly love, mother of all mother's milk, touch, lips, hands, support. "You have already done enough/Don't be afraid/You made my day/I came to say.../Everything is going to be all right/In good time," sings Kaitlyn Leathers at the end of "Just an Old Flame." Another track, "No Eye Contact" begins with a swoon and swirl of women under some fantastic moon. On another track, "All Aboard," wonder woman DeVito sings with no restraint or shame about the moon, rainbows, sunlight, and butterflies floating across seas.

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The album does have a number of guest appearances by men—Champagne Champagne, P.O.S., Aesop Rock, NyQwil—but they do not challenge the direction of the recording in any way; without resistance, they go with the feminine flow.

Vessel is the first great local hiphop record of 2010. Zavala is a solid producer (a cleaner and merrier Prefuse 73), and Onry somehow manages to not be overwhelmed or completely absorbed by the dense beats and numerous/numinous women, who usually wait for him to end his performance (to get every bitter thing out of his system) before completely unfolding their enchanting colors. Can Onry ever go back to the harsher, nastier, angrier world that was his home for so long? Is this break permanent? We shall see in good time. recommended

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