Passionate. Personable and resonant.
ORIGEN AKA WILL STANTON
New CD: "Letters"
The Long and short: Strong. Solid production, nice variety. Passionate.
Sound: Spoken-word backpacking on a pilgrimage to visit Thomas a Becket.
Self-professed influences: Van Morrison, Das EFX, Neil Young, EPMD, C.S. Lewis, [St.] Augustine, Boogiemonsters, CCR, Coldplay, Pittsburgh Steelers and Jesus Christ.
Likelihood of being reminded of either Tha Pharcyde, Aesop Rock or the cool Christian kid at your high school: 73 percent.
Production: By Adept, of Toronto. Smooth, though sparse enough in parts for listeners to notice the metaphorical girders as much as the fresh paint job. Allows the listener to imagine the process of its assembly. Wide range of borrowed elements, from industrial sounds, to soulful looped vocals, and back to jazzy brasswork.
In a line: "Resist the Devil and he will flee from you. Praise God."
Or two: "I don't hate the radio; I just don't like the music ... wouldn't it be nice if all the talented were famous, if the voices on the air were what we needed to hear, not the current crop of garbage accosting our ears."
You'll notice: Shout outs to Keith Murray, Das EFX and EPMD.
Best evocations: "Meet me at the Lamppost's" saxophone loop a la Tha Pharcyde's "Passing Me By." Also the sped-up lyrical cadence in "Right Where I Need You" might take you back to Kris Kross' "someofthemtrytorhymebuttheycan'trhymelikethis."
Philosophy: Struggles less with his Christianity than Kanye but strays toward KRS-ONE's preachiness. Nonetheless deep, despite the heavy handedness. Personable and resonant for the Christian in you.
-- Philip A. Stephenson, Post-Gazette staff writer
Origen ... seeking truth in desolate lands.
Origen aka Will Stanton (Strike Two Records)
3 1/2 Stars (out of 4)
With hip-hop's good name run through the mud so many times by the pimps, the pushers and the pistoleros, sometimes it takes an outsider's perspective to remind you why you liked it so much in the first place.
Origen aka Will Stanton, aka the alias-happy Chris Miskis, grew up with hip-hop in Mt. Washington, but his family moved to Irwin, where he discovered punk rock. After years playing guitar and bass in indie bands like Tabula Rasa and The Revolvers, he came back home to hip-hop. He's also a a DJ at jazz radio station WDUQ.
Origen puts all of his influences together in non-obvious ways, and makes it stand outside time and trends.
Toronto beatmaker Adept lays the foundation -- dark, jazz-inflected piano and horn loops build noir-ish tension atop simple, head-nodding beats.
Lyrically, instead of harping on his mic-battling bona fides, Origen comes across as a streetwise philosopher seeking truth in desolate lands. In some tracks, it's a struggle, like the ominous "Through the Desert," where he admits "there's certain aspects of my character I cannot defend." In others, like "Grace," it's a strong, battle-scarred faith that gets him through. Even in a post-"Jesus Walks" hip-hop world, this still sounds startling.
-- Michael Machosky