Kanye West’s Yeezus was undoubtedly one of the best records last year. It was also, undoubtedly, one of the most hated. The amount of gushing from the music critic community is probably only matched by the level of vitriol that came from the general public. Ever want to strike up a heated conversation? Just utter the words “Yeezus was the best album of 2013” in any room and battle lines are sure to quickly form.
Yet, there is one thing that both the Yeezus haters and lovers can agree on, even in the face of lyrics such as “In a French-ass restaurant / Hurry up with my damn croissants”: The production on Yeezus deserves three explanation points. Moving away from the soul-drenched beats of past albums My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy and The College Dropout, Yeezus introduced us to a more industrial, acid house-infused Kanye. Along with those sounds, Yeezus also introduced us to a crop of new producers who helped Kanye establish those sounds: Hudson Mohawke, Arca, Young Chop and Evian Christ.
Of those four, Evian Christ may have been the least well known. Only 24 years old, Evian Christ—born Joshua Leary and hailing from a town just north of Liverpool—first came onto the electronic music scene via a well-received mixtape, Kings and Them, in 2012, which introduced listeners to his R&B- and rap-influenced “pitch-dark” music, but he had yet to even release an EP before being tapped by Kanye.
On Yeezus, Evian Christ lent his rhythmic gifts to the X-rated “I’m In It,” where the dark, electronic, industrial stylings of Christ were made to mirror the overtly sexual nature of Kanye’s lyrics and then teamed with a Justin Vernon chorus to make the song into something most on either end of the aisle had never heard.
Following the success of that collaboration, Evian Christ released a four-track EP in early 2014 that was equipped with such bangers as “Salt Carousel” and “Waterfall” (below), two-tracks that scream grit your teeth and nod your head. "Waterfall" in particular displays Christ’s predilection for grimy, industrial-laden, hard-hitting beats and continues to open the door just a little bit more on what could be one of the more interesting electronic artists of the next few years.
In the meantime—before that door is blown wide open—Evian Christ will be bringing his NIN-inspired, hip-hop-concocted beats to Rotture on Friday, May 30 for $10. It will be a good time to catch him before the next Kanye album blows up and he’s playing venues twice the size for the twice the price.
If you have doubts about that being a realistic possibility, just read his quote about what he’s working on for the new (currently untitled) Kanye album when he spoke to self-titled in April: "I’ve got to get home and write an Otis Redding-style beat for him. He emailed last night. He wants something that sounds a bit like Otis Redding, a bit like Mobb Deep."
If that’s the direction Christ is heading, you’d better catch him now.