Patterns of Escapism pairs Leaf Dog’s younger brother, Illinformed, with High Focus founder Fliptrix for his sixth solo LP. We fade to black in its final moments with the words of great British philosopher, Allen Watts. Throughout the 90s, Watts presented a link between humanity and the natural environment, drawing on the teachings of Hinduism, Chinese philosophy, pantheism and modern science. He once said, “The only way to make sense out of change is to plunge into it, move with it, and join the dance”, and it’s echoed in the album’s motif. Though the spiritual aspects are less prominent than on previous works, (Third Eye of the Storm, Road to the Interdimensional Piff Highway, Polyhmnia) Patterns of Escapism feels more like a destination as opposed to another journey.
Producer Illinformed plucks lush jazz samples, laces them over smoothly pronounced drums and wraps it all in a golden-age tint. The soundscapes glide from track to track, maintaining momentum along the way. “Pull the fucking plug out of the box and get to recognise”, Flip stresses on ‘Spread Peace Around’, a string-driven ode to evolution, co-existence, stargazing and smoke sessions under an intertwining harmony. Standouts ‘One Time’ and ‘Lions Den’ are weighty with psychedelic imagery, domineering horns, short, addictive guitar strums and teasing pianos. In essence, the boom-bap production makes the album accessible at face value, whilst Fliptrix’s rhymes offer a metaphysical wormhole to venture further.
The eponymous single presents a microcosm of the human lust to escape the monotony of reality. Calm and melodic wails dance timely across each measure, where Fliptrix draws a grimly honest perspective on the occurrences of everyday life. He paints the decrepit streets with a cinematic omniscience, from dank stairways and 24-hour storefronts to vandalised youth hangouts and baggie-littered gutters. And whilst Hip Hop will always exist in those places, Fliptrix braves the maze to the core with his audience, in a bid to link arms and lead them out. We’re glimpsing a progressive relevancy that excels in hitting the rock of where others only float the surface.
Whilst Patterns of Escapism is anchored by an abstract concept, the message is applicable wether you’re spiritual or not. The underlying mystique leans on a frame of both worldly and interstellar inspirations that easily could have, but never does, come off as far-fetched. And the result has us listening intently to an unlikely astronomer, as opposed to a deluded free-spirit waving peace signs in a San Francisco park. Spirituality has its niche in rap, and the medium of underground Hip Hop in the UK is evolving as a creative platform. It may never match the volume of Grime, but it doesn’t need, or even want to. Fliptrix’s outside thinking is propelling the genre along parallel lines, and the boundaries are seemingly endless.
Support the movement and cop Patterns of Escapism here.