Home Music DJ Muggs the Black Goat: Dies Occidendum

DJ Muggs the Black Goat: Dies Occidendum

DJ Muggs has never been one to shy away from the dark side. Even on his early work with Cypress Hill, the New York producer was dabbling in hazy sonics, flawlessly complementing B-Real’s twisted imagery. On his new album, Dies Occidendum, it seems he has become completely corrupted by the wicked, occult, and whatever else supernatural forces he sold his soul to.

This sudden turn is in no small part credited to Sacred Bones. By the time the label approached him, Muggs had already started working on the concept of Dies Occidendum over the span of years, keeping them tucked away in a computer folder, waiting for the opportunity to unleash them into the hip-hop world. It’s impossible to say how closely the final products resemble their original form, but the outcome is a succinct expression of atmospheric production.

Upon hearing the lead single, “The Chosen One,” a precedent was set of beats with a cinematic sense of scale driven by hi-hats and ghostly samples supported by fierce low end. A bit trendy, but that’s okay. It’s fun and bouncy, so why not? As it turned out though, this single was the anomaly in the tracklist. He incorporates hi-hats and heavy bass on some other beats, but they’re used sparingly, granting some breathing room to the sampling to grow. In fact, when placed shoulder-to-shoulder with the other beats, “The Chosen One” feels thin and shallow in comparison.

Perhaps no song shines as bright as “Nigrum Mortem.” Representing the opposite end of the spectrum in regards to “The Chosen One,” this song almost completely disregards the hip-hop framework, sounding closer to a jam session between some unnamed band that recently signed to Southern Lord. Fuzzed out bass drones over organ chords and hard-hitting drums ring out in a smoky cloud of stoner rock-infused bliss. But following this, Muggs takes a low-key approach, setting a soundscape more akin to the dank marshes of the underworld he has crafted through his music.

“Alphabet of Desire,” with it’s somber pianos and dramatic strings, abandons any semblance of hip-hop influences, serving more as some dark ambience. At this point, it becomes clear that DJ Muggs has higher ambitions than simply putting out a glorified beat tape. With that being said, the second half of the album can tend to drag a bit. “Veni Vidi Amavi,” while dabbling in some spacey textures over an eerie beat, barely evolves past the point it starts at. In the last 15 seconds, it suddenly transitions into what is essentially a segue to the next song, “Anointed,” accentuating just how stagnant the beat had become.

Inherently, there is nothing wrong with having the outro of the album being five minutes of outdoor field recording on “Transmogrification.” But when it’s five minutes of an album that barely breaks the 30-minute mark, one is left wondering what purpose it is meant to serve. Sure, it’s a cold closer to a cold album, but you are better left using this time deciding what to listen to next.

Dies Occidendum is a worthwhile addition to DJ Muggs’ canon. It doesn’t sound like his most layered or fleshed out work, but it does what it sets out to do. The concept of The Black Goat is a fun idea that forces Muggs into some territory he rarely embarks into otherwise. While it would be intriguing to hear Muggs build a second Black Goat album from the ground up, it also seems unlikely considering the circumstances under which Dies Occidendum came to be. Either way, The Black Goat deserves your time, even if just for a few listens.

DJ Muggs seems to have been completely corrupted by the wicked, occult, and whatever else supernatural forces he sold his soul to.
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Occult 808s

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