Though it seems farfetched, because of just one compact disc I was mentally prepared for 9/11 and its Orwellian aftermath a month before it happened. In August of 2001 I was browsing the electronica section of one of the local indie record stores and a provocative CD cover caught my eye. It was a rather twisted and ominous mural filled with occult sigils and unambiguous references to secret societies, shadowy government agencies and black magick. Immediately I knew the creators of this album had something interesting to say. (I've since learned the cover art was created by Doze Green, a legendary New York graffiti artist whose work has also been featured on albums by Tabla Beat Science and Deeper Concentration hip hop compilations.)
Before finding Outer Perimeter I had never heard of Presage, the individuals comprising the group (mr. dibbs, dj jel and MC dose one) or their incredible label, Future Primitive Sound. I was so blown away upon hearing it I've since sought out other works by these artists while expanding my knowledge of underground hip hop in the process.
On my first listen I realized this wasn't "electronica" but a type of hip hop not comparable to anything I've previously heard (except perhaps a few rare tracks by DXT who is very likely an influence). Guided by a seamless flow of tight beats mixed with expert scratching and infused with funk, rock and occasionally chaotic jazz samples, I was hooked from the first track till the last.
What set this album apart even more was the subject matter. Though mostly instrumental except for "Riddles" which features an excellent stream-of-consciousness rap by MC dose one, Outer Perimeter gives the listener a tour through a world of systemic corruption, (almost?) humorously absurd paranoia, conspiracy theory, and police state terror tactics leading to a disturbing vision of a future totalitarian New World Order. One might think of it as a musical equivalent of the vision of humanity enslaved that Morpheus shows Neo in the Matrix (as well, apparently, as the type of future CEO Bush and Company seem intent on making a reality). Though first released in 1998, these spoken word samples seem eerily prescient, in many cases being applicable to the current Bush regime. This prophetic quality can be heard particularly on tracks like "the Media", "Divide and Conquer" and "Slaves" (which even uses a sample of a speech from Bush senior). Only a few references to a UN controlled NWO seem out of date in light of recent unilateral actions by the US and UK.
The final track on the album stands out as one of the most dead-on artistic depictions of America under the Patriot Act I've heard, though it samples large portions of Ice-T's "Shut Up, Be Happy" (who in turn utilized Jello Biafra's "Message From Our Sponsor" speech from his first spoken word album and brilliantly mixed it with Black Sabbath!).
But Outer Perimeter is not all doom and gloom. There's a number of darkly humorous quips scattered throughout, though in cases it comes off more disturbing than humorous since the "War on (some) Terror" began.
In all respects, this album is a groundbreaking classic and I encourage everyone whether into conspiracy research or not to check it out. Unfortunately it is out of print but can still be tracked down on the net. For those fortunate enough to have heard it and wish to hear something stylistically comparable I recommend dj jel's "Greenball" and mr. dibb's "Turntable Scientifics" which I suspect is a major inspiration for other djs such as Z-Trip, Sole & JC. For those into hip hop with intelligently subversive agit-prop content, check out "Sonic Jihad by Paris and "War (if it feels good, do it!)" by the DJs of Mass Destruction feat. Emcee Dubya.