Debut full length by Flagstaff hip hop duo, An Illustrated Mess.
After two years of writing, recording, performing, an unfortunate hard drive crash, rewriting, re-recording, and more performing, the long awaited debut mixtape, “Does It Matter?” by An Illustrated Mess delivers a broad collection of well produced synth heavy breaks. Cecil Tso’s exclusive swift synth break beats accompanied by Prosodic’s harsh, quick delivery opens the tape with “Where Are We?” and “Writer’s Block.” Immediately followed by “Whatevs” and “No Anthems (featuring Flagstaff hardcore band Bad Idea Central)," the rock influenced tracks allude to Ill Mess’ deep rock roots. The immediate soundcloud favorite, “Gasp (featuring Amber Martin),” which served as the group’s first single, flirts with a dance floor tempo, bouncy bass-line, and also displays a great juxtaposition of Martin’s smooth melodies and Prosodic’s sharp vocal expression. The single also serves as a great transition into the second half of the tape. “Going For Gold,” an unexpected, yet brilliant synth pop jam, perfectly illustrates the range and versatility of Prosodic, convincing us he’s ready for anything Tso throws his way. The only instrumental track “We,” is where we find Cecil Tso's voice through several atmospheric chords, uptempo drums, and hypnotic melodies, appropriately serving as a bridge to the outro track. “Fin” is the most hip hop sounding track on the tape. With a knocking bass line, gritty dry drums, we digest a well executed performance from Prosodic. While “Fin” technically concludes the mixtape, a few bonus (and hidden?) tracks close the project. Tré Orona, Thun Mantys, Dj Béeso, and Benjamin Velasco lend their musical skill to the closing tracks. An Illustrated Mess’ present a proficient setlist of eclectic songs, while still holding a cohesive balance between genres. With themes of keeping it to together, falling, rising, striving, and going for gold, Prosodic’s straightforward lyricism is brutally honest, meanly humble, and genuinely personal. Underneath the honest words, the wildly diverse polished production depicts the high level of skill the duo possess. An Illustrated Mess describe themselves as a hip hop duo, however this project shows they are definitely willing to push the boundaries in any musical direction. - Ryan Allison