It's hard to know where to start with Blue Sky Black Death. While hip-hop production duos like Hudson Mohawke get lauded with praise for being on point with whatever beat trends are the current zeitgeist- you get the sense maybe Blue Sky Black Death doesn't get their proper due.
Known as Kingston and Young God they are thought of a Seattle based team. That's not exactly it. Kingston (Ryan Maguire) started his career in the Mafia retirement capital of Canada Guelph, Ontario. Known then as Orphan he started the record label and collective Plague Language with the prodigious rapper Noah23. Members of Plague Language include Baracuda, Livestock and DJ Madadam (Noah23 had various projects - with Baracuda he had Bourgeois Cyborgs and his best local collaboration The Weird Apples was with Livestock and Madadam).
Noah, born in Natchez Mississippi emigrated to Guelph, and Maguire's careers were closely associated from the getgo. Orphan/Kingston completely produced Noah23's 1999's Plague Language, released on CD as Cytoplasm Pixels in 2006. Young God also contributed production to Plague Language releases.
Blue Sky Black Death, a name taken from a skydiving term, have become associated with a certain immersive often live-instrumentation and live vocal based sound. They came into the awareness of hip-hop culture through their signing to Babygrande records and collaboration with Wu Tang dark horse Holocaust. Their debut album Blue Sky Black Death Presents: The Holocaust is something altogether different, perhaps too dark for its time, and never really got its day. There are one or two live radio broadcasts of Holocaust shrooming and freestlying on the air in Boston that need to be heard to be believed.
On their own they have released only 4 albums; 2006's A Heap of Broken Images; 2008's Late Night Cinema; 2011's return to their live-instrumental essence Noir; and 2013's Glaciers tapping a similar vein.
People may remember Blue Sky Black Death best from their unofficial remix of Frank Ocean's Pyramids that came out almost exactly a year ago Valentine's 2014. Their Pyramids remix includes a chopped and screwed sample of Pimp C's verse of Wood Wheel from UGK's 1999 Stoned & Dethroned is a persistently good release. Normally a collaboration that starts with a track called Coke Hyena listing out a bunch of euphimisms for cocaine would never work. But Nacho Picasso's lazy nasal drawl and BSBD's innate sense of hope/gloom/foreboding beatscapes just make it work over and over. The album builds from strength to strength. Material that could be pedestrian otherwise is left pedestrian but equally exalted by the fine fine production. Coke Hyena's followed by S, D and R & R (co-prod. Eric G.) which could be embarassing given it's obvious subject matter. It's not. Then comes Bastard In A Basket which is about skeeting into tissue- and still it works. Other very high spots on the album include MouthFull of Gold and the singular '89 Dope Spot.