Friday, November 10, 2023

Integrated Tech Solutions by Aesop Rock


For the better part of three decades, Aesop Rock has used the syntax of the moment to expose the fault lines in that moment's supposedly solid foundation. With his tenth album, Integrated Tech Solutions, Aes wields insidious corporatespeak as a tool to pry this parasitic worldview away from the parts of life that really matter.

A concept album about an organization that offers "lifestyle and industry-specific applications designed to curate a desired multi-experience," Integrated Tech Solutions picks apart the charlatan language that hears app inventors place themselves on continuums starting with cavemen and continuing through da Vinci. On "Mindful Solutionism," the wheel evolves seamlessly into modern agriculture-and then into atomic bombs, Agent Orange, cigarettes, and surveillance cameras. In a rare moment of transparency, Aes engineers sum up the spiral in a few words: "We can't be trusted with the stuff we make."

Fittingly, the album sounds like the past and the future at the same time. Largely self-produced, Integrated Tech Solutions captures Aes at his leanest and most innovative, juxtaposing the careening bounce of "Solutionism" with the wistful "By the River" or the slow creep of "Salt and Pepper Squid." The effect is a record that sounds like an organism itself, growing, mutating, hurtling toward profitability - and then destruction. As fans have come to expect, Aes is at once bitingly funny and slyly profound, whether recounting a childhood restaurant run-in with Mr. T ("100 Feet Tall") or quipping on "Pigeonometry" that "white dove is a pigeon-you motherfuckers are bigots." At the same time, Integrated Tech Solutions is working on another parallel project: tracing the sprawl of modernity and cutting directly to its core. "I've been doing laps of the lost worlds," he raps on "All City Nerve Map," sounding at once exhausted and invigorated. "I can draw a map to the raw nerve."

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