Xero God
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Xero God

Asheville, North Carolina, United States

Asheville, North Carolina, United States
Band Hip Hop Electronic


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This band has not uploaded any videos



"Album Review > Xero God Drops Their Latest"

Xero God opens with “GNRS,” a song that sets the stage for the journey through the rest of the album. Soft notes travel up and back down the scale, dropping into deeper notes that together create an experience of being lifted and gently falling through a particular chord. Then the beat drops, and Xero’s voice unites with the music: “Ghosts don’t go down/ they just rise up/ they just rise up.” It’s the first verse on the record, and it hits home. This album is about the rise after the fall, about the experience that we all have of bottoming out and being lifted by tenacity, plus a little help from the forces of the cosmos. It’s about being unstoppable even when everything seems to be conspiring to halt you in your tracks. “Sometimes I think they want me to be better than I am/ live up live up give up/ get down on myself/ looks like I blew it again without going down on myself/ lucky me, stuck between another rock and a hard place. . . .Gory nosebleed sections/ man they tryin’ to look down on me/ but I still rise up.” The beats stay constant through the song, providing the lyrics a place to land and grounding the music firmly in twilight rhythms of deep jazz.

“Xero God” is the next track. It starts with higher, tinkling sounds, almost like a music box, before Xero’s voice and the bass drop in to bring you down into the beat. Xero’s poetry is both accessible and puzzling. Trying to tease out the meaning of the verses is like trying to open a beautiful puzzle box—it’s just as attractive if you never quite understand it. He rhymes: "Hell hath no fury/ no nephilim next to him/ go on get that medicine/ go on get that medicine."
The words and their meanings are rich, rolling off the tongue and embedding themselves in the imagination. Xero God together access a dream language, both verbal and musical, characterized by flows of the subconscious that create the foundation of the sound. “Senketsu” opens with these dream tones (right after a pretty nightmarish, evil-sounding sample of someone saying “There is no God” repeatedly—unique samples like this one are one of the many strengths of the album). Xero’s wordplay is out in full on this song (“They’re titled like sir/ I’m tidal like waves”) and the verses careen over bouncing rhythms.

“Cufflinks” is a short piece that links “Senketsu” with the next track. It’s dark, dreamy, and slightly unnerving. A clipped, professional man’s voice intones, “You are going to relax,” a phrase which fades out and echoes back in variously mutated forms. The next song, “Taken,” drops into what at first seems to be slightly more muted territory. The vocals and music seem to trade places throughout as one rises to prominence and then drops back, allowing the other to effloresce. The samples here get downright ethereal, as a singer’s distorted voice moves up and down the scale and is echoed by synth chords. It’s a flowing, meditative song that is filled with echoes of rhythms, voices, rhymes, and repetitions. Listening closely to songs like this is an incredibly rewarding experience. Each time I listen, I hear another detail, a layer that I missed on the previous go-round. The complexity is dizzying, but never daunting. Rather, it’s exciting to realize that this record has earned the right to that (nowadays) rarest of things: deep, sustained attention. “Still” is another jazz-infused track. Saxophone notes come in throughout and create deeper, more rounded edges throughout the song as higher-pitched blips that sound like they’re straight from the arcade bounce around at the top of musical phrases. This song, like so many on the album, circles around the trappings of identity—the desire to make your mark on the world, but also the pitfalls and false successes that you experience when you allow the hungry ego to take over. Xero sings, “Brighter than fluorescent meets lightening. . . In the game of who’s who/ it’s a lose-lose competition.”

One of my favorite tracks, “Choke” starts with saxophone, which wells up over the sounds of nighttime thrumming of insects and Xero’s own voice, which murmurs softly before arcing into a higher register. The sax drops out and the sounds segue into a lilting, repeating sequence of notes that cascades like a waterfall during the chorus, when Xero rhymes: "cuz I sleep, and I drift, and I hope ,and I die cuz I choke." “I found youth but no fountain,” he goes on, and we too understand the destructive impulses and false optimism that so often come along with being young. It’s powerful stuff.

A short interlude, “Out the Tomb,” is brief but powerful. “I’m comin’ out my tomb,” whispers Xero. It’s a promise of a powerful resurrection that can happen at any moment of life, when you shake off inertia and see, for the first time, the path in front of you. “Holy Man” seems like the only song that could follow this track, redolent as it is with religious allusion. But in Xero God’s world, holiness is itself something irreverent. It’s the dance of the Holy Fool rather than the hierophant, celebrating the importance of revelry alongside ritual. But within this is also deep wisdom, and the reluctant recognition that time passes despite our best efforts: "Eviscerated I’m a holy man/ Xero God trippin’ in the holy land/ I’m infectious you don’t wanna hold my hand/ Emaciated, grown old, damn.”

The final track, “Kill Pack,” is also the album’s first single. It starts with a sound clip from anime, a mysterious discussion of an “ultimate weapon” that fades out into the song. I can see why this was the first single, because it really gets at what Xero God is up to in terms of the versatility and creativity of their sound. Filled with beats that fire like synapses, it’s yet another song that gives more with each listen. There’s so much going on here, and it comes together as a completely mesmerizing whole. It’s clear from this and all the other songs that the instrumental piece and the vocals would, if separated, still stand on their own as complete works that would be amazing in their own right. But when these forces join together they’rerocketed to a whole new level. The song—and the album—fade out as Xero continues to rap, his voice growing more distant until it is no longer audible. We get the sense that he has so much more to say, but the inevitable end (for now) has come. At this point, a beautiful guitar coda that echoes the instrumental and vocal portions of the song comes in. This coda, played by Asheville musician Kevin Carballo, is simple, melodic, and breathtaking. It ties the whole album together and draws it to a close, but with the promise of return. It’s perfect. - Asheville Grit


Xero God (Self-Titled) - 2015



Xero God is Musashi Xero and Panther God. Musashi Xero plays fast and smooth on the mic, creating acerbic ryhmes
delivered through his jazz-inflected voice. Equal parts urban poet and
mountain mystic, his words combine razor-sharp social critique,
invocations of landscapes both natural and fantastic, and an irreverent
playfulness that gives new cadence to the universal experiences of love
and loss. Panther God lays down the beats, synthesizing elements from
hip hop, jazz, soul, and experimental electronic sounds to manifest
chromatic bursts of synesthetic sounds that cascade between layers of
melodic complexity and angular grooving percussion. Xero God is their
collaborative brain-child. As Xero God, they invite us on a journey
through hallucinatory dream visions that careen down
neon-lit midnight streets and soar to interplanetary heights. The sound
is gritty but transcendent as Musashi Xero's verses punctuate Panther
God's worlds of sound. The universe of Xero God is deeply chill and
uncompromisingly imaginative, the sounds lush and evocative, echoing
through innermost space and resonating across the mind's eye.

Band Members