Extreme tension hides behind a pristine surface on Serengeti and Sicker Man's second collaboration.Graveface Records, 2016
7.6 / 10
Dave Cohn is an emcee as prolific as he is polygamous, having now released nine albums under six pseudonyms over the course of just three years. Enlisting a new production team for nearly every release, each disparate soundscape offers a totally unique universe in which his fictitious raconteurs recall taking the Octomom bowling after prom, or gloating to youthful female groupies about their copious offspring, or redeeming themselves after an unsustainable success in the UFC. If ever his fables of remorse and insatiable grief – and fantasies of onions aplenty – feel overwhelming, there’s always solace in knowing that he has an extensive network of creative buds to see him through any shards of autobiography shining through.
On his second collaboration with Berlin future-classicalist Sicker Man, Cohn – under his solo alias Serengeti – revisits the minimalist baroque soiree crafted on 2013’s Saal, injecting an optimism and extroversion previously unaccounted for. The infinitely-regressing pun of a title Doctor My Own Patience seems misleading for a piece significantly more restless than its predecessor, chockful of stifled yelps from Geti and a ceaseless barrage of exotic pandemonium from multi-classical-and-electronic-instrumentalist Tobias Vethake. If Saal is the soundtrack to Cohn’s internal monologue during his ex-wife’s bougie re-wedding ceremony, Patience is the subsequent consolation prize in the form of a whisky-advertisement after party where he finally lets loose.
On the Geti Scale, the opening title track clings to the experimental pop end of the spectrum, recalling the recurring bizarro universe where collaborations with Sufjan Stevens, a Workaholic, and One Republic’s Tim Myers have launched his career so far into the ether that his music is featured in the NBC sitcom Chuck, and, concurrently, a universe where I’ve met at least one person who has ever seen the NBC sitcom Chuck. An earnest attempt at self-care, “Patience” stands out on the album both in terms of conventional pop songwriting and uninhibited amusement lacing the duo’s reckless abandon, from Geti’s shouting backup vocals on the chorus to Sicker Man’s piano-banging and steel-drumming.
But it isn’t long before melancholy kicks in, germinating as lustful yearning on the seductive “Boy” and Eurotrash fantasy “Impress a Girl” and spreading to the remaining six tracks. While “Hills” pulsates with hope and “Top Up” dissolves into jittery practicality, the underlying leitmotif of Patience is an extreme tension hiding behind a pristine surface. Geti’s shouts recur on the otherwise vocal-free “Hotelroom” and provide a distinctive crescendo to the otherwise restrained “Loose Control” [sic], counteracting his rare elusion of rapping and hip-hop tropes in favor of a meek singing voice to best complement Sicker Man’s regal instrumentation.
Despite the glaring rift between the opening track and its successors, Doctor My Own Patience is utterly coherent as an aesthetically visceral experience. At this point in his career, it’s become evident that conceptual songwriting isn’t the intention of collaboration for Serengeti (with at least one exception), but rather a byproduct of the creative energy elicited by his innovative peers. Where most rappers hitch their wagons to any available star, Patience could be seen as an artistic argument for the payoff of opting to remain under the underground for one more project.