NOTHING TO DECLARE
700 Bliss is the forward-thinking duo of DJ Haram and Moor Mother. On their first full length release for Hyperdub, Nothing to Declare, the duo create an album of noise rap, one that ties together the raw edges of club music and hip hop with punk energy, jazz, house-party catharsis, loud percussion-heavy analogue sound design, and cheeky skits. Some tracks (“No More Kings”) are distinct experimental rap tracks with rolling hi hats and lyrical bravado while others (“Seven”) are poetry set to noise and sound collage.
Moor Mother and DJ Haram started collaborating in 2014 and eventually formed 700 Bliss, a blistering live act in Philly's DIY scene, releasing their 2018 debut, Spa 700 on Halcyon Veil / Don Giovanni Records. Since that time, both artists have grown global followings. Moor Mother is a prolific solo artist and collaborator, writer, and member of Black Quantum Futurism while Haram has been curating and creating radio shows, DJing, and producing (including an EP for Hyperdub in 2019).
Nothing to Declare is a smart, danceable revelation. The darburka drums of their 2018 debut, Spa 700, are present, but here they’re submerged into a chiseled soundscape of dive bombing bass, piercing bleeps, crunchy distortion, and wavering synth lines. On “Anthology,” Moor Mother pays homage to Katherine Dunham, the matriarch of Black dance. Elsewhere, her flow is sometimes processed and distorted into monstrous shapes, with Haram delivering a foil to her vicious spitting on “Bless Grips,” “No more Kings,” and the title track, “Nothing to Declare.”
Welcoming in a variety of voices from their extended, cross-genre scene, they also bring along a cast of collaborators, giving space for additional points of view and their own voices. Orion Sun lends her cooing vocals to the tough affirmations of “Nightflame.” On the dark grime of “Totally Spies,” Lawfandah's lead vocals are compressed into a metallic shimmer. Palestinian producer Muqata'a co-produces on “Candace Parker,” with a flurry of breakbeats and distortion. Vocalist Ali Logout from the band Special Interest barks a declaration of intent on “Capitol,” while writer M Téllez delivers a surreal sci fi monologue over a pounding kick drum on “More Victories.” Nothing to Declare finishes with the ground-down, malfunctioning “Lead Level 15,” Moor Mother's slow vocals distorted over lumbering synths, with Ase Manual delivering an urgent questioning verse.
Nothing To Declare is a take-no-prisoners, deeply layered rewriting of hip hop and electronic music that gives more with each listen. It's loud and frenetic. It's playful and fun. You won't hear another rap album like it this year or next.