What do you get if you cross a rapper, a punk, a musicologist and a copy of Cubase?… Whilst this may sound like the start of a bad joke, the actual answer is Ninjasonik – whose debut effort Art School Girls could indeed be considered a bad joke. In places even edging toward a studio outtakes album – maybe the producer decided to leave tracks unfinished and party with the Ninjasonik boys instead – as (at least) this album is a pretty good party soundtrack. Granted it’s lacking in musical ingenuity or even clarity, but instead it offers up a stripped down version of traditional bass-heavy hip hop, laced with synthesizers, vocoders and the occasional guitar – then drenched in reverb for good measure.
Hailing from Brooklyn, New York – they have an established reputation as a performance act, collaborating with various artists on the live circuit such as Team Robespierre, and one cannot help but feel that Art School Girls acts as solid evidence that performing live is more their forte.
The proverbial treadmill that is Art School Girl does not gain a sense of direction and hence doesn’t “start” until at earliest the fifth track ‘Picture Party’. New listeners will be frustrated by the bizarre and experimental nature of early tracks – which essentially serve as an answer to the question “What does an acid trip on Cubase sound like?” – Erratic and repetitive, it would seem.
Musically present from the start are the cutting kick drums and crisp snare hits that are the precedent for the rest of the record, seasoned with random lyrical commentary, such as in the title track – whereby Reverend Mcfly sardonically laments his “love” of art school girls over a pulsating synth line. It’s also here that the band showcase their humour and attempt to charm the audience – however, this fades with each listen and, considering this is one of the few selling points of the album, it becomes stale fast.
But if more persistent listeners are able to endure the early forgettable tracks, they are rewarded with some gems. ‘Somebody Gonna Get Pregnant’, with its penetrating melody and inescapably addictive lyrics, serves as the ideal contraceptive campaign – bringing an end to the “Jeremy Kyle” teenage pregnancy generation and perhaps (even more advantageously) taking the show itself out of business. ‘HA HA HA’, sees the band live up to its innovative reputation as they introduce a fusion of punk rock, raucous guitars with their characteristic hip hop drum patterns and rapping, creating a “bounce-able” party anthem recounting tales of “drinking until passing out”.
By the end of the EP, Art School Girls leaves the listener feeling exhausted, although not from physical exercise, but rather from the mental exertion involved in searching desperately for the hooks needed to draw them into listening again. Sadly for Ninjasonik, these are not to be found on the vast majority of their tracks – alienating the wider spectrum of listeners and meaning it may be some time until the Ninjasonik boys tunnel their way out of their underground lair to see the light of day again.