Death Grips’ ‘Bottomless Pit’ is hard, loud and totally uncompromising
“There is a particular kind of pain, elation, loneliness, and terror involved in this kind of madness,” clinical psychologist Kay Redfield Jameson once wrote of bipolar disorder. “When you’re high it’s tremendous. The ideas and feelings are fast and frequent like shooting stars, and you follow them until you find better and brighter ones. Sensuality is pervasive and the desire to seduce and be seduced irresistible.”
Such a description serves as a pinpoint-precise explanation of mania, but it would also seem just as at home printed in Bottomless Pit’s liner notes. The entire album resembles one long, protracted and painful high. It’s a muscle gone taut – a frothing hole screaming obscenities. Nothing about it is intellectualised, or considered. It’s an album that cares not for you head or your heart. It bypasses rational thought, sauntering straight into your gut.
The whole piece reeks of madness. MC Ride’s scat and spit delivery on ‘Hot Head’ is a perfect mimicry of the racing thoughts that beset someone with bipolar, but more than that, it’s a perfect mimicry of their speech. When you’re high, it feels like your mouth won’t flap fast enough – your body fails you, and you find your thoughts move a million miles faster than your lips can smack.
The same goes for the album’s smashed together samples and ever changing tone. ‘Giving Bad People Good Ideas’ is about seven separate songs stitched together as one, and the way it transitions from grime-influenced rap to noise rock without so much as a moment’s hesitation mirrors the way the bipolar mind hops from topic to topic. You follow tangents – “shooting stars” as Jameson describes them – in ways that seem random and unplanned to outsiders.
Sexuality also serves as a link between album and illness. Bottomless Pit has a kind of brutal flirtatiousness to it, though it’s less raised eyebrows and more oozing fluids. Nothing is ever fulfilled – neither party reach climax – but their sweaty, doomed efforts sit at the album’s centre. ‘Warped’ is one long, fruitless fuck session, and the way the song cuts out before the true conclusion speaks volumes.
Bottomless Pit is evil, sure – but more than that, it’s manic
Bottomless Pit is possessed, and songs like ‘Eh’ and ‘Three Bedrooms In A Bad Neighbourhood’ are as vital as anything the group has yet released. They are political tunes in the sense that dissatisfaction with politics is a dissatisfaction with human beings, and each noisy, hostile anthem jerks away from society – from people – with such intensity as to resemble an anaemic bronco deprived of both food and trust.
It makes sense that Bottomless Pit was released after the band’s official breakup rather than before. The Death Grips story has always been about dead ends, lies and disappointments. The metaphor of the phoenix rising from the ashes is too pretty. Death Grips haven’t risen. They are still of ash. Still cremated. They’re just asking their fans to chew on their remains.
Bottomless Pit is evil, sure – but more than that, it’s manic. It’s one unstoppable high: a face being beaten against a wall. A hand balling into a fist. A mouth failing to keep up with a mind. But more than anything, it is significant – a jagged obelisk pointing straight up, unavoidably present. Real. After all, in the words of Jameson “madness carves its own reality.”
Bottomless Pit is available now via Harvest / Caroline Australia.