Over the last five years, Psyche Origami has emerged as an Atlanta hip-hop group with a smooth and cerebral edge that rises above the club beats and misogyny of standard-issue Southern rap. The group's very name is an allusion to MC Wyszstyk's mind-altering lyrical flow, while DJs Synthesis and Dainja spin a pastiche of sharp beats and samples.
With The Standard, Psyche O's second full-length, the group has stepped beyond the realms of intelligent hip-hop to churn out a concept album. The Standard is based on the premise of viewing the human body as a metaphor for a vehicle that needs fuel. "We eat and drink to fuel ourselves every day, and we read books and watch TV to fuel the mind," says Wyszstyk. "If we treat the body as such, what would the gas station sound like?"
Indeed, The Standard is a transient place where people pop in and out throughout the day. It's a level playing field where everyone from crackheads to CEOs pick up cigarettes, sodas, gas, and get irate when the checkout line doesn't move.
"Fool Service" sets the stage, opening The Standard for business, while "No Line, No Waiting" and the album's first single, "Wherever You Are," unfold with sophisticated rhythmic workouts that flow like self-service pumps.
On the surface, the concept comes off a bit grueling. But in a city scene where watered-down Crunk Juice drives the masses, The Standard offers a blast of brain food and keeps the body moving.
"The goal is to challenge people without challenging them at all," Wyszstyk adds. "A gas station is so mundane. It's something people do every day and don't think twice about it. At the end of the day, you can wrap your head around it in the simplest way, but if you really want to dig into it, it's all there. Have at it."
Psyche Origami plays the Earl, with Collective Efforts, Binkis and X:144, on Thurs., Nov. 10, 9:30 p.m. $12. And with Cadillac Jones on Fri., Nov. 11, 9:30 p.m. $8. 488 Flat Shoals Ave. 404-522-3950. www.badearl.com.