Back in 2011, two Somervillians joined forces to plot mayhem. They are, respectively, Mr. Id and Theory Engine; left hand and other left hand of the experimental-rap entity now known to us as IMMIGRANTS. La Parca, local purveyors of especially magnetic tape, soon recognized their talent and helped get some of their tracks pressed to wax. Set to Mr Id’s Kiev-forged, Berklee-honed electronics, Mr. Engine draws free-association elements directly into poetic sequence with raspy brashness. His flow somehow manages to be new and old simultaneously. Mr. Id sets an especially cinematic stage, conjuring a groove that fuses a bassy slouch with a myriad of Southeast Asian tinkling percussion, sort of like a bell-covered bear lumbering through the jungle. You stand there dumbstruck thinking, “What is going on here?” . . . and the next thing you know, you have bear in your face.
That exotic production can’t be easy to rap to, but Theory finds the grip-holds with a rap style that leans toward spoken word. Unlike with a lot of spoken word, however, you will want to rock out. Take the spooky fourth track, “Ding!” which waxes literate about Mary Shelley, or the ultra-funky “Adult Cinema,” which riffs abstractly on a Michael Jackson tip. There’s more oddball fare too, like the spaced-out vibes of “Kuiper Belt,” a vision of all sorts of futuristic oddities. My fave is a deep cut from all the way back in the day, though. Initial Demonstration contains a perfectly pulpy story of PlayStation tomb-raiding with “Indochine.”
Come and check out IMMIGRANTS live at Cambridge’s Lilypad tonight, playing alongside BENT SHAPES, HEAVEN FOR REAL (Halifax), and the legendary CUFFS.