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Psyche Origami lightens up with Flagship 

Atlanta indie hip-hop trio looks to the past to find its future

Like a ninja stealing away on a quest for spiritual enlightenment, Psyche Origami slipped out of public view some time ago.

When MC Wyszstyk and DJs Synthesis and Dainja dropped their 2005 full-length, The Standard, they were Atlanta’s premiere indie hip-hop trio. It was an intricate concept album that came off as ambitious, but was a solid confluence of the group’s heady lyricism, jazz, funk and turntablism. It beckoned to the beats and rhymes of the ’90s, when De La Soul, A Tribe Called Quest and Digable Planets reigned supreme. But after touring extensively and watching their label Arc the Finger Records fall apart, the future of the group became cloudy. “We took a year off to gather our thoughts,” says Wyszstyk (née Charles Gilbert). “After being a touring, independent hip-hop act for five-plus years and watching the label dissolve, we had to reach back into ourselves and figure out what we wanted to, or if we wanted to keep doing it at all.”

What they found was a new batch of songs and a philosophy that revisited the group’s older style. Titled Flagship, the latest album, which is still in production, sheds the heavy conceptual approach of The Standard to summon the lighthearted air of the group's past. “We wanted to get into the vibe that we were into when we dropped Is Ellipsis… — upbeat songs and a variety of subject matter touching on a lot of different points. The Standard was so thick with concept that it got away from the fun party vibe that we were bringing forth on our previous endeavors,” Gilbert says. “For us, the mission is to bring things full-circle.”

Onstage, the group has expanded to a six-piece ensemble dubbed the Psyche Orchestra, incorporating bass, drums and horns in an attempt to reach deeper inside their sound. The large ensemble covers material from as far back as the ’01 debut, the Perforated EP, when the only instruments were two turntables and a microphone. Says Gilbert, “That music was meant to be dark, and playing it with a live band adds a whole new dimension to it that’s edgier than jazz and more than hip-hop, and it feels very complete.”

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