The Physics has released its latest album, Digital Wildlife, as a free download. But the biggest risk the Seattle hip hop group takes with the album isn't a monetary one. Digital Wildlife eschews a commercial sound for a free-flowing artistic vision.
Digital Wildlife is an impressionistic hip hop album, boasting frictionless movement and open composition. Producer Justo's combination of organic beats and instrumentation and electronically created flourishes yields a deeply soothing musical vibe. The contemplative feeling is bolstered by Thig Nat's delivery and lyrics. He never seems rushed, seemingly content to let the words flow as they come to him. The album features atypical track construction, as some songs finish musical fragments tacked on as outros after the main tune ends. It's as if another idea was picked up while tuning between radio stations looking for the next song.
At its core, the Digital Wildlife is a mood piece. It's the antithesis of a party album; devoid of anything that might be mistaken for a banger. When things do get festive, it still fits The Physics's laid back feel. There aren't raps about raging wild nights, but there is one about drinking and chillin' by one of the areas many fine bodies of water ("By the Lake"). For the most part, Digital Wildlife focuses on love and longing in the modern tech age and the distance and unrealness it can actually create (see: "No Tellin"). The group avoids big hooks (with the closest thing being the looped refrain of "You're the only thing on my mind" on the playful, video game reference dense "On My Mind"), but this choice prevents things from getting tilted and disrupting the album's flow and balance.
The Physics took many risks with Digital Wildlife, but, for listeners at least, the rewards are well worth it.