Darkest Comedy

My introduction to Open Mike Eagle was his A Special Episode Of EP back in 2015. We played it on Eclectic Kettle, and opening track Dark Comedy, Late Show's astonishing agility between deadpan, wry humour and razor sharp skewering of our societal malaise boggled my mind so much that I proceeded to stutter over his name (“Open Eagle… Mike?”) but, regardless, I was an immediate fan. In the years since, he's put out three more albums, plus the excellent What Happens When I Try To Relax EP. Atop that, numerous guest spots, singles, collaborations, and he made some TV shows too. Sharp wit, a connoisseur's deft use of pop-culture, and an apparent relish for juxtoposing his heaviest commentary right next to the lightest metaphors.

His most recent release is Anime, Trauma and Divorce. And it's the record of the week because it's great. It's also a significant outlier for OME, because as noted above, his style is often indirect, armoured in humour, often addressing of broader societal ills with some ladles of self-deprecation. AT+D, was made under the advice of his therapist to use his art as a way to process the recent titular events in his life. Challenged to express his personal experience without veils or misdirection, and without undercutting himself with jokes.

The result is a great album. Musically, it's tight as ever, choosing great beats, exhibiting coherence and variety across its 12 tracks. Recurringly accompanied by soulful trumpet work from Jordan Katz, fitting perfectly with the overall tone of the album. These tracks share recognition of faults, acknowledgement of pain, and lays out the starkness of loss: the self-doubt, de-realization and meandering of a life upended.

While of course the raps are quite straightforwardly rooted in these experiences, having this record land now, 9 months into a collective pandemic disaster where we have all lost the routines we knew, makes for connections, recognition, and comfort in this record that maybe we wouldn't have expected if it had been pitched on a sunny day at the start of the year, some many, many Marches ago.

Mike is prolific in a way that itself is quite bracing — intimidating, even. Not only does he drop new work with regularity, but he seems very at ease to  keep moving forward. I remember catching a performance at The Independent, when touring Brick Body Kids Still Daydream. He didn't play one single track from the Hella Personal Film Festival LP that had come the year before (and which I loved. To be clear, that's not a complaint, just an observation of his sense of purpose.)

How long he'll spend in the moment with this record before the next thing is hard to imagine — especially since the quarantimes have eliminated most established promotional rituals like tours. Regardless of how long he wants or needs to work with this record, it's a welcome privilege to share it in this moment.


  1. Nowhere, man by Tune-Yards (4AD) New
  2. CYBERPUNK by HEALTH on DISCO4 (Loma Vista) New
  3. Break
  4. Car Crash in G Major by fanclubwallet (Gavel Tapes)
  5. Gold by Claud (Saddest Factory)
  6. I Keep Calling by James Blake on Before (Polydor) New
  7. Break
  8. Featured Death Parade by Open Mike Eagle on Anime, Trauma and Divorce (Auto Reverse) New
  9. Elaine by Kenny Segal and Serengeti on Ajai (Cohn Corporation)
  10. Blue Crow by Hayden Thorpe on Aerial Songs EP (Domino) New
  11. Break
  12. Featured WTF Is Self Care? by Open Mike Eagle on Anime, Trauma and Divorce (Auto Reverse) New
  13. Approach with Caution (feat. Sampa the Great) by Quakers on The Next Wave (Stones Throw) New
  14. Ophelia by Ivy Lab on Fridget (LDN) New
  15. Tuesday by Video Dave on Week 1560 (Auto Reverse)
  16. No Difference by Caleb Giles (Self Released) New
  17. Break
  18. Be Like Water by Mark Pritchard on Be Like Water (Warp) New
  19. Felt Tip by Teebs on Ardour (Brainfeeder)
  20. Kerosene! by Yves Tumor on Heaven to a Tortured Mind (Warp)
  21. Lessons From My Mistakes...but I Lost Your Number by Liv.e on Couldn't Wait To Tell You... (In Real Life)
  22. Break
  23. Everything Ends Last Year by Open Mike Eagle on Anime, Trauma and Divorce (Auto Reverse) New
  24. Satellite of Love by Lou Reed on Transformer (RCA)
  25. CALL ME (Freestyle) (feat. 박혜진 Park Hye Jin) by Blood Orange on CALL ME (Freestyle) (Domino)
  26. Bloodflood by alt-J on An Awesome Wave (Infectious)
  27. Air Forces by Mustafa (Regent Park)
  28. Break
  29. Jam by Darkstar on Civic Jams (Warp)
  30. Star (feat. Mono/Poly & Tanerélle) by Machinedrum on Star / Believe In U (Ninja Tune) New
  31. Orders from the Pausing by Rian Treanor on File under UK Metaplasm (Planet Mu) New
  32. Long Road Home by Oneohtrix Point Never on Drive Time Suite (Warp)
  33. Break
  34. Leaving Franklin by John Jeffrey on Leaving Franklin (Self Released)