• Tristan Acker

So Fragile Yet So Strong – review of Phantom Thrett’s 26th Hour

“The cloth that I was cut from is out of print” – Spill

Phantom Thrett has become lost in his sauce. He has lost his mind- or is in the

process of losing it. And it is glorious. His last vocal LP Broken Winter is an

anomaly of polished Inland Empire originated neo-soul from a Latino MC and

while his first actual vocal album follow-up 26th Hour is full of him singing and

rapping it’s from a more mature yet more scattered place.

If Cam Archer’s recent inside voices LP is a bunch of full on songs with a few

boom-bap poetic 1-2 minute-ish intermissions peppered throughout, 26th Hour is

the reverse: a bunch of poetic lo-fi 1-2 minute intermission spoken word vocalizer

moments interrupted by a few full on songs like "Flaws", "Spill", and "Wrong Idea".

“last time we spoke I was lost too”

Songs like “last time we spoke” and “deprogram” stood out to me on my first

listens for their uniqueness and rawness but as the weeks have passed since

this record initially dropped the record that sits with me the most is “Spill” as it

contains a lot of his thesis: we are so potent and weird yet so fragile. I continue to

have a theory that a lot of the work coming from the I.E. lately has an “almost 30”

theme to it whether it’s Archer, Thrett, Cam Gnarly, Thascool and many more. Thrett’s artistic exhibition of a working man and artist trying to keep it

together while taking in the totality of life and its experiences is a thrilling piece of

the larger trip-hop psychedelic conversation Thrett participates in by releasing music

exclusively on bandcamp and studying the hell out of the obscure tape-only

release experimental releases that line one of the walls of his shop, San

Bernardino’s sole record store, Serious Cartoons Records & Tapes.

I was lucky enough to blaze a blunt with Phantom in his shop as he showed me

the whole new album; I probably couldn’t have been introduced to this set of

songs in a better way. This to me speaks all the more to how good the

Retrograde version of the album, found on his bandcamp, is. It’s the whole

album in reverse order and I enjoyed it even more that way. The core of the

album to me remains, “Flaws, “Spill“ and “Wrong Idea“ in the sense that they are

some of the longer pieces with the most conventional song framework but let’s

take a moment to talk about what it really means to think outside of the box: in

my opinion, a lot of people talk about thinking outside of the box without

understanding the “box” itself as a paradigm. Broken Winter is proof enough for

me that Phantom knows the “box” – the norms and structures of R & B and rap.

In this new album he explodes the box and the result reflects his subtle but ultimately

apparent obsession with the fragile duality and liminal nature of life. He focuses

in on the strength and the vulnerability, the rap and the singing, the artist and the

businessman, the neophyte and the veteran, the romantically ensnared and the

solitary, all of these contradictions are apparent in the melodic poetic rantings

and consciousness streams Thrett shares here. Waju and Gnarly absolutely

deliver on their features. Songs like “Euphoria” actually also have deft use of

conventional song structures but the melodies and verses are strange and

idiosyncratic- this is the fruits of when the person experimenting knows the box:

they invert structure, and the work unfolds more over multiple listens. I hope

Thrett doesn’t make us wait another 6 years for his next vocal project because 26th Hour is

bravely out-of-the-norm and still tuneful with dope raps.

Tristan "Tanjint Wiggy" Acker is a staff writer for Zus Entertainment, a Jooseboxx and Untapped Hip-Hop contributor, and member of the Inland Empire, California based nerdcore hip-hop group the West Coast Avengers

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