[Album Review] LUNV D – ‘Diviner’

photo by Kaland Hendrickson

It’s been a tireless couple of years for experimental hip hop artist LUNV D. Since the drop of his debut album KVIZEN in 2018, the Houston-based Lunatic Diviner has been honing his joyfully anarchic voice through one genre-blended project after another. In the midst of the insanity that was 2020, he dropped two collaborative albums—the industrial trillwave masterpiece Leap Year with Lord Bile and the Dante Alighieri-inspired End of the World with Zøtboi and D-Seal—as well as a protest-themed solo EP aptly titled VMERICV that was dropped just as global unrest against police brutality was reaching a boiling point. And the goth punk rapper from the Third Coast is showing no signs of slowing down, kicking the new year off with Diviner—twelve tracks of defiance and existential angst that encapsulate an artist waving both middle fingers at genre norms and industry trends. 

Diviner is an entirely self-produced passion project, evident in the prevalence of LUNV’s sword-sharpening sound signature as well as the heavy (and welcome) use of live instruments. The album is as much a showcase for his musical and production talent as it is a representation of his flow and lyrical range. Elements of emocore and pop-punk are seamlessly spliced with vaporwave and industrial beats. Each track is a barrage of FX laced with either acoustic string melodies or underground hardcore club distortion. 

It would honestly be fair to consider Diviner a progressive rock album, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t every bit as much a rap album as well. “Cherub,” for instance, sounds like Playboi Carti rode Doc’s DeLorean back to the 1950s to front a rockabilly jam band, which—as much as that shouldn’t make sense—ends up working on every level. “Noir 3” is a jazz rock/rap gem functioning as the perfect closer to a track list full of musical Frankensteins such as the witch house/screamo trap song “Gold” and the hypnotic, mantra-heavy “Spellcasting 2.” In the end, what it amounts to is the work of an artist drawing equal amounts of influence from Mars Volta and Chris Travis, and the result is something truly special.

LUNV is an artist aware that we are the company we keep, and he brings his most trusted hitters into the ring with him on bangers like “DØN’T TVLK BVCK,” the most radio-friendly song in terms of catchiness and upbeat tone but juxtaposed with the meanest, nastiest bars coming from Zøtboi and depressive introspection from D-Seal. Lord Bile provides his morphine-soaked growls to the intro of “Eyez,” signing off with the line “Only thing that makes me smile is a dead cop,” a note which sets the tone and opens the floor for LUNV’s spastic energy to quickly escalate into full-chested screaming aggression. Throwing it back to the Eight Bracket days—a time several years ago in which LUNV D and several other Gulf Coast kids seemed to be on a similar trajectory of collectives such as Odd Future and RVIDXR KLVN—cloudwave singer/rapper BR4N reunites with the mystic pirate on “Down,” one of the more subdued songs on the album that brings the Lil Peep-esque vibes.  

Thematically, the album is full of poetic musings regarding class struggle and existentialism, kicking off with “Divine Intervention,” a song that was recorded on the heels of LUNV being robbed by PayPal hackers. “I could care less about bank account, nothing on earth is forever / Music and all of my friends around, shine like diamonds under pressure” is a statement of purpose coming from an artist unconcerned with compromising authenticity and soul to fit into a mold. This is definitely music that will hit hardest with a niche audience rather than appeal to everyone, but that’s a major part of what makes it genuine art. That said, the most infectious hooks LUNV has written yet are also present here, most notably on the pop-punk anthem “Thinline” and on “Globe,” one of the album’s more mellow offerings that remains light-hearted and stoic while dripping dark rain cloud vibes: “Wish that I could spin the globe, eyes closed, pick a place and then just go, find a place to rest with all the lost souls.” The dynamic structure of each song is without a doubt due in part to the unique production, as this is an album that would be interesting to listen to even as an instrumental pack, but the ever-shifting cadence of LUNV’s delivery is what truly elevates the experience. By his own confession, the Lunatic Diviner is “striving for a voice that relates and destroys anything too exclusive,” and with Diviner he has achieved precisely that. 

Stream Diviner here.

400 Blows

I watched The 400 Blows for the first time at three this morning because the kid is going through growing pains and waking us up a lot. Again. Kids will do that in cycles.

The 400 Blows is a highly regarded French classic that – thanks to a past job at a video store and my grandmother’s enormous pirated VHS collection – I’ve always known existed but had never seen before. The plot is basically Catcher In the Rye but more depressing ’cause it’s French, I guess. There’s not a lot going on, just an unhappy kid trying to ditch school and steal shit to fund his exodus from home. And I kind of loved it. The film never pretends to be more than what it is, it just comes through as genuine. I read somewhere that it’s autobiographical on the director’s part, which makes sense as to how it stays within the realm of the world it presents. It successfully sustains the dream, as the homies Jordan Harper and J. David Osborne have been going on about lately.

Anyway, it got me inspired to write. I’m working on a lot of shit I’ve been feeling in my guts and dreams lately that I’m excited to start sharing soon. Be well.

White Trash Occultism, Episode 1

I’m co-hosting a vidcast now, on top of everything else. This shit is fun. Lucas Mangum, J. David Osborne, and I kick off each episode analyzing a music video from an occult perspective and the conversation spirals from there. The director’s cut is here: https://www.bitchute.com/video/rkBNWgObQY3q/

Lucas Mangum

The premiere of my new show with Kelby Losack and J. David Osborne is up.

We don’t own shit, just our thoughts. In the show’s premiere episode, authors Kelby Losack, Lucas Mangum, and J. David Osborne discuss Jay-Z’s “Onto the Next One,” leveling up, the films of Ari Aster, LSD, Donald Trump and New Thought, the occult nature of cancel culture, chronic lying, stolen valor, the many faces of John Cena, and the indie writing scene. If you enjoy this show, please like, share & subscribe. You can also check out Kelby’s books (https://www.amazon.com/Kelby-Losack/e…​), Lucas’s books (https://www.amazon.com/Lucas-Mangum/e…​), and David’s books (https://www.amazon.com/J-David-Osborn…​). White Trash Occultism is a brand new show with new episodes every Tuesday. Up next, we examine BTS’s “On.” Be sure to tune in!

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Skin in the Game 12/17/20

Broken River Blog

I’m thinking today about ideas and what rights we have to them. This is on the heels of a great podcast recording with Kelby, where we discuss all kinds of edgy stuff. Great fun. Anyhow, during the conversation we talk about Kelby’s life experience. He’s a dude from the Houston area with face tattoos, who ran in some scary circles growing up, and who has a relaxed view of social politeness, to say the least.

On the podcast, we bring up this one time on Twitter (yech), where Kelby chimed in on a touchy racial argument with a reply to the effect of “this is how x normally happens in the hood.” To which a black woman, educated at fantastic schools, wealthier than Kelby has ever been, mocked him for saying “the hood.” As though she had some better idea? This is his lived experience.

I want to move away…

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Used to be, we’d do drugs to rot our brains, now we just stare at our phones. At least codeine and ketamine and other “-ine”s make you feel like the inside of a thick neon cloud (whatever that means, just sounded cool). All I feel doomscrolling social media is resentment and yearning for a time when nuance was part of the conversation. Or, fuck, when conversation was part of the conversation. It’s all just screaming now.

“I’m smart because I’m restating the point of my favorite influencer who is restating the point of their favorite anonymous joke account who is restating the point of” please choke on a dick.

I’ll be leaving it all soon. Once the people I fuck with are all in my phone or email contacts, I’m blasting a nuke at all of those shiny square icons. And it’s not only because even people whose company I enjoy in actual meat space are unbearable dick-riders and simps online, it’s because my memory and other cognitive functions have gone to shit. And I’m blaming that on Twitter.

Remember when — never mind, of course you don’t.

The chemicals in our brains need balance, and social media is constructed as a dopamine factory, throwing our shit all out of whack every time we think of sharing or reacting to something. I’m not saying anything even remotely new, here. I’m just sick of accepting it. So I’m migrating to here, where I’ll infrequently share thoughts and whatever I’m working on or vibing with, and I say infrequently because — what I most want to do? — I wanna make art. Fuck all the other noise. I’ve got a manuscript in a homie’s inbox that will get tweaked and turned into something at some point, a novella prompt I’ma follow up on, some rap shit in the works, a collaboration y’all ain’t ready for, a monthly series that’ll start dropping in January, and ideas for Heathenish Radio.

Who the fuck has time for Twitter?

New Clouddx Single, “Soul Savin'”

cover photo by Keenan Maxie

It’s barely been three weeks since his debut “Dead Inside” but local hip hop producer-turned-R&B singer Clouddx is keeping the momentum going with his second single, “Soul Savin,'” an atmospheric, lustful tune that’s easy to vibe to. Clouddx is showing he’s got range here, as well. By the second verse, he’s borderline rapping/doing spoken word between scaling notes within stretched-out syllables while keeping a consistently chill pace with the beat. Resist the urge to say “just spread them thighs” in a mock chopped and screwed baritone next time you’re about to get freaky, though, as this song may influence you to do.

Stream now on Spotify and Apple Music