ith PLANET’S MAD, Harry Rodrigues (Baauer) creates the near perfect electronic record for this careering mid-pandemic world.
As far as organic marketing goes, this world altering pandemic could not have been more well suited to the release of American producer Baauer’s sophomore LP. One of the trap pioneers alongside RL Grime and TNGHT, Baauer has been a stalwart of the scene since releasing THAT SONG (Harlem Shake) in 2012.
Baauer’s attempted recovery from becoming one of the unwitting/unwilling early viral stars was his 2016 debut album Aa, a compact yet brilliant 13 track trap record that did as much to carve a path away from the ubiquity of Harlem Shake as was possible at the time.
Four years later and Baauer has returned with PLANET’S MAD, and although his sophomore effort fails to reach the same heights as Aa, its timeliness is profound.
Opener PLANCK presents somewhat of a foreboding introduction into Baauer’s chaotic musical world. A jumbled concoction of elements is more disconcerting than surprising to start but drive the sense of foreboding about what is to come, the unexpected searching vocal around 3 minutes in provides the Segway into the beyond.
‘The beyond’ in this sense is not too dissimilar from the world today, which Baauer brilliantly distils into 10 (more on this later) jumbled and brash electronic concoctions that have all the togetherness and assurance of the Swedish Government’s pandemic response.
The tracks on this record go everywhere, which is not to say that they stray, but they bear the typical hallmarks of the way trap has tended to evolve over the years, sounds and pace changes hurtling around the listeners ears with no discernible anchor.
While the anchor for this project seems absent from many of the songs, it exists firmly in the thematic core of the LP itself. All songs, bar the auto-tuned aberration that is HOME, conform to the same general theme. It is the current relevance and familiarity of this theme that gives the album and edge it otherwise would not have.
Title track PLANET’S MAD is, as the name suggests, in your face aggressive. Not markedly different from much of Baauer’s past bass heavy work, its infusion of sounds nonetheless makes it a refreshing and enjoyable listen. The foreboding turn towards the end daring the listener to hold on for more.
MAGIC in turn, provides the requisite crunch that you’d expect from a Baauer album, before YEHOO flips everything on its head with a convincing attempt at making me hate Baauer for following the Dillon Francis/Diplo trend of kitschy Moombahton.
Weirdly however, the song works. A buoyant use of pitched up synths create the semblance of voice in the absence of it, providing a solid contrast to the songs that came before.
YEHOO trails into PIZZAWALA (weird song names I know) brilliantly, the undeniably tribal is close to the records best. Layered with the type of music RL Grime’s album should have had, the drums Disclosure’s forthcoming album will have, and Bauuer’s undeniable touch throughout.
REACHUPDONTSTOP and HOT44 both tend towards the repetitive vocal sample into drop route that is all familiar these days. They fill the brief in a sound, if unremarkable way. AETHER, as the name suggests, goes for the ethereal. The hallmarks of RL Grime are all over this track, Baauer does it better in some ways (multi-layered drums), particularly in the second half, and worse in others (the overall song).
COOLONESEVEN perhaps best reflects Baauer’s desired result from the LP. It’s a menacing trap song that encapsulates al the variety Baauer has built into the record on the songs prior, an odd Rezz like turn towards the end is hard to pin down. On balance however it seems out of place.
As touched on previously, HOME doesn’t fit, and is barely deserving of a mention at all. Closer GROUP is odd in another way, combining the grating trap/bass sounds with the sort of melodic vocal/synth creations you’d expect from Zeds Dead.
A fitting end perhaps to a project that very out of sorts but well conceptualised at the same time. PLANT’S MAD is undoubtedly, as no other album could have been, made for these times.
How it will sound in the future remains to be seen, its longevity may indeed be limited by its pertinence to the current climate. However, for now such thoughts are for another time.
Enjoy this album now, it will never be more fitting.
Do yourself a favour, and check out the album here - you won't regret it