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Grand Buffet: King Vision

Grand Buffet: King Vision

Release Date:2008

By Al Shipley | Posted 3/26/2008

Pittsburgh indie-rap duo Grand Buffet's absurdist sense of humor might not be especially witty, but it appreciates the value of brevity. Its discography over the past decade consists of as many EPs as albums, and even its full-lengths never exceed 35 minutes. On its second large-scale release, King Vision, Grand Buffet dares to stretch a few tracks past the three-minute mark, but those songs still end or change direction as abruptly and unexpectedly as a good joke.

Grand Buffet's division of labor has always played to its members' respective strengths: Grape-A-Don handles the bulk of the verses with his dexterous flow and eye for lyrical detail, while Lord Grunge sticks mainly to singing hooks and producing the bright synth-driven beats, which recall the Human League more than hard-core hip-hop. Grape-A-Don is a curiously minor presence on King Vision, rapping on less than half the songs. It's largely to the album's detriment, even if the more melodic Lord Grunge-dominated tracks have their charms.

When Grape-A-Don does rap on King Vision, he's brilliant, if in a way that resists analysis or logic. There's a trenchant critique of nightlife buried somewhere in "Seek to Know," but you have to get past its deeply silly opening couplet: "When I go to a nightclub, I know that I might rub/ a couple people the wrong way with my white gloves." And deciphering the dense narrative of "Cream Cheese Money" reveals nothing more than a tale of a trip to the library. But as surreal as they are, Grape-A-Don's verbose rhymes are what Grand Buffet needs more of if the duo hopes to be more than shtick.

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