Aesop Rock’s Skelethon was a solid effort from the Bay Area transplant. A mature release that manages to capture the teetering-on-the-ledge tension we’ve come to cherish while ushering in a more adult sound. The new video for “Cycles to Gehenna” is the perfect example of this growth.
“Cycles to Gehenna” is a beautifully shot art piece set in a neofuture of Black Swan-esque ballerinas and one bearded soothsayer. It’s like a one man show in a dystopian wasteland of hot dancers and ill bars. Take this, “Here is how a great escape goes when you can't take your dead friends names out your phone.” It’s like the tragedy of a post apocalyptic Moulin Rouge without the hallucinating midget.
There’s this melodic break that brings the song to a close, and, like an urgent magician, Aesop Rock offers us some “For Emma-ish” lamenting: Grabbing a cabin in the-Fuck-outta-dodge / Actin' a savage in the shadows of Rome / Amassed against insufferable odds / Fashioning gallows out of plastic and bone”. If Sage Francis’ “Best of Times” had a more demented little brother, it’s “Cycles to Gehenna”.
Aesop has gone from that weird, tormented voice from the shadows warning us not to fall asleep, to the familiar, tormented voice from the fog warning us not to fall asleep. It’s the familiarity I have with Aesop’s twisted narratives that keep me coming back. You literally never know what he’s going to say or how he’ll express what he’s said, but he always says it different than anyone else on some hip hop man shit. In a land of copy cat little kids, I’m left appreciative.