Although they claim to be a hip-hop group, this New Jersey, USA-based trio’s dense and heavy music frequently alienates hip-hop’s usual fanbase and probably has as much in common with avant-rock as it does mainstream rap music. Dälek (apparently pronounced ‘Dialec’) was initially originated by Dälek (b. Will Brooks, Newark, New Jersey, USA) as a solo venture but, having met Oktopus (b. Alap Momin, New Jersey, USA) at William Patterson University, Brooks soon morphed the project into a group. He dropped out of his studies, spending his college money on an MPC 3000 sampler/drum-machine/sequencer to record a debut and to gig heavily. Stretching five songs over 39 minutes, the duo’s 1998 debut Negro Necro Nekros unusually coalesced classical musics, Indian raga, post-punk, My Bloody Valentine -inspired noise, and sampled William Burroughs dialogue into a fearsome sound: the closing ‘Praise Be The Ma’ comprised over 10 minutes of feedback.
Following the album’s release, Dälek and Oktopus hooked up with turntablist Hsi-Chang Lin aka Still (b. Long Island, New York, USA) while on tour. The DJ appeared on Dälek’s second album, From Filthy Tongue Of Gods And Griots, released on Ipecac Recordings in August 2002. Despite drawing on theoretically intriguing influences from rock and jazz alongside the more expected hip-hop inspirations, Dälek are frequently grounded by prosaic vocals and can tend towards dreariness. Problematically, lines such as ‘Yesterdays don’t matter now you’re gone/Shattered glass of empty bottles cut my palms’ can sound so humourless as to (conversely) be amusing rather than affecting.
Dälek have collaborated with avant garde jazz musicians William Hooker and Ravish Momin, plus electronic artists Velma, Sofa Surfers, Kid 606 and 2nd Gen, and veteran Krautrockers Faust.