My introduction to the work of Viper came through a facebook group set up to answer the seemingly innocuous question what are we all listening to today? I was getting a bit pissed off with the place, partially due to the promotion of both Burzum and Death in June by means of the usual wearyingly defensive crap about rising above political correctness and thinking for yourself, although it was probably this same post-ironic contingent which started going on about Viper, because this album was apparently massive amongst sneering internet edgelords of a certain type. It's probably the videos which are to blame - shoddy, no budget camcorder jobs made by YouTube types featuring Viper himself sort of jiggling in time to the music, usually with someone who might even be his mum pretending to cook up a big ol' pan of crack on the family stove; but, hilarious though they may be, the videos don't really matter. Of course, it's true that Viper's music probably sounds like nothing you've heard before, and there's an oddly amateurish quality to it as characterised by some of the titles, but fuck - this is some genuinely good shit, and screw whichever anonymous arbiter of what constitutes culture described Viper as an outsider artist.
Okay, so You'll Cowards sounds as though it was recorded on a nineties Playstation, and first impressions speak of a man rapping quietly in hope that his mum, who is probably in the next room, won't hear him talking about guns and crack; but those are false impressions, and the more you listen, the more it becomes obvious how well Viper's husky near-whisper suits the music - and the more it becomes obvious how well everything here fits together, and how it's supposed to sound like this. Sneering over how Viper sounds nothing like whoever just makes you look like a fucking idiot.
The first thing which will hit you is the bass, and how much of it there is, and how often it's more of an effect than anything with any kind of melodic purpose - like a low flying aircraft or the mangled rumble pumped out of some Escalade waiting for the lights to change. The bass is slow and louder than everything else, and the whole sounds compressed to fuck - booming sine waves with a ticking noise in the background, and that would be the drum machine. Never mind outsider art, it takes serious judgment and ability to come up with something this close to sonic collapse which works apparently in spite of itself. Beyond the bass, we have distant haunting melodies played on something resembling a Casio VL Tone, and Viper rapping through what sounds like some kind of codeine haze - the usual gang related material, but not without flair or imagination, and at least as good as anything you ever heard on a No Limit album.
I don't care what any sniggering post-ironic wanker might have to say on the subject, this is a genuinely weird and peculiarly haunting - even soulful - album, and I shall most definitely be investigating the rest of Viper's back catalogue.