I don’t know if it is fair to refer to Illogic as a quote, unquote, rapper. Probably more so than anyone else in the industry; Illogic recites poetry over beats. I’m talking content here, not delivery. The 22 year old brings more intellectual thought in 4 bars than most people will conjure up in a lifetime. Essentially, that is what limits Illogic from having the fan base his music deserves. The dread-locked emcee from Columbus, Ohio is simply too deep for many to understand, or too complex for many to figure out. That isn’t a knock to anyone who doesn’t dig him, but a lot of people want music to entertain them, not challenge them.
“Celestial Clockwork” marks Illogic’s third official release on Weightless Recordings; along with 1999’s “Unforeseen Shadows” and 2001’s “Got Lyrics?” Toss in last year’s tour-only, spoken word effort “Write To Death.” Similar to his other Weightless projects “Celestial Clockwork” is produced entirely by Blueprint. As always, his sonic blueprints add layers of depth to each track, custom fit to whatever mood Illogic is looking to create with his rhymes. The union of their talents has never been showcased better than on the incredible “First Trimester.” Over Prints’ dark and heavy pianos, suitable for scoring a rainy day, Illogic (from three perspectives), tells the story of a young couple and an accidental pregnancy that is remarkably brilliant in both content and execution. We rarely get a masterpiece like this in music.
Storytelling is really where Illogic shines on this LP, he is similarly impressive when he plays a son chastising his domineering and abusive father (played equally well by Slug), on “Stand.” Delving into yet another aspect of relationships, he plays the boyfriend who gets cheated on and learns a “Lesson In Love.” And just check the way Blueprint hooked up those pianos, so nice. “1000 Whispers” is another of the best offerings here. The beat is what you might hear staring through a kaleidoscope on acid and Illogic gets ill with lines like; “and for some reason you wonder why your puzzle is a jigsaw/when you fail to decipher the morris code to simply avoid the pitfalls/if need be I can get raw, just pocket the latex/but that’s like asking the man with no legs why he crawls to see the apex.”
There are some disappointments though; “The Only Constant” featuring Blueprint is backed by a beat that never really settles in. More disappointing is the posse cut “Time Capsule” featuring Aesop Rock and Vast Aire, which is more generic than dynamic. Nevertheless, when it is followed by a song such as “Celestial Clockwork,” or the stunning finale “I Wish He Would Make Me,” all is forgiven. In fact, the chorus from this title track is a good way to determine whether or not this album is for you; “celestial clockwork is an elixir/simplifying an obscure picture/so sip the defiled mixture/concocted by purity’s twisted sister.” Now if you read that and think it is ill and incredibly clever, then pick this up by all means. But if you read that and wondered where the part about the guns was, then keep it moving.