Kingdom Of Fear - Kingdom Of Fear (YNR Records)

Perhaps you are familiar with the idiosyncratic works of Hunter S. Thompson; perhaps you are not. But ask in any circle that knows and you'll find hefty praise for a man of both a singular and uncompromising style, simultaneously appearing to be autobiographical and by turns completely fantastical and absurd. Ask in hip-hop circles about Jehst, and chances are you'll find a fairly similar set of responses.

Released Oct 29th, 2012 via YNR / By Matthew Bayfield
Kingdom Of Fear - Kingdom Of Fear (YNR Records) With this in mind it's therefore entirely appropriate that his newest project, Kingdom Of Fear, is a conceptual journey into a mescaline soaked world of psychedelic samples, off kilter lyricism and a refreshingly traditional approach to production.

On emcee duties for the majority of the piece is Kashmere. If you are familiar with LP's like his excellent Galactus: Power Cosmic of a few years back, wherein he created a whole album under the guise of a Marvel villain, you'll know he is the ideal choice for a conceptual role such as this. Again capturing some the surrealist spirit of Thompson's narrative style there are numerous quotable lines from "picking fights with oak trees" to "getting higher than screams at honour killings". In a genre where most emcees seem bound to endlessly praising their own ability or how clever they are with verse it's particularly pleasing to hear someone simply deliver intelligently assembled lines and let them speak for themselves.

Throughout Kingdom the production (handled entirely by Jehst) is again perfectly suited to both source material and emcees. Using a rough, cut & paste sample styling in the mould of names such as Madlib (particularly his Loopdigga series) there is a myriad of layers to focus on and disassemble, ranging from the dusty, psyched out flute licks of 'Fear 'n' Loathing' to the almost Flying Lotus esque shimmer and shuffle of 'Crocodile Lizardz?!?'. In the press release for the piece Jehst likened his position as producer to Ralph Steadman's role as illustrator in Thompson's work, and stylistically it's a fairly astute comparison. From the intricate detailing of tracks like 'Crocodile Lizardz?!?' to the much broader, punchy brass samples of 'Live Without Love' there is sonically the same feeling of contrast between chaotic, illustrative details and bold inky splashes across the pages.

Much like any good trip the comedown tends to be a slightly less comfortable period, and fittingly the album concludes with a dense trio of tracks that pile on the menace and paranoia akin to the moment when you realise you probably didn't need that last tab. 'Love 'n' Hate' which features a pensive guest verse from Micall Parknsun, comes thick with discordant organ stabs and radio static before 'PANIC!!!' and 'Kingdom Of Fear (The Comedown)' throw hectic string stabs and brooding guitar respectively into the foggy final minutes.

As a standalone album it's an impressive listen but Kingdom Of Fear manages to pull off the one-two combo of being a unique and diverse project, keeping within the spirit of its source material, but without ever falling into the common blight of using said concept as a crutch or merely hijacking the name to shift a few more units.

There are few people bold enough to step outside their comfort zone in UK hip-hop in 2012, but Jehst is an artist who tends to redefine his boundaries with every release and Kingdom Of Fear is no different. Gonzo hip-hop at it's finest!