After featuring on the latest My Mate Does Beats compilation from perpetually in-demand producer and sound engineer Chemo, and getting airtime on Disorda’s Suspect Packages Radio Show; Lincolnshire-based producer Nick Roberts has released his first album Ouija. His tracks build slowly, with purpose, forming serene audio environments that have a level of quality you rarely find in the independent beat market. On Outside The Orbit his astral sounds dive from a height to land softly on middle-eastern string arrangements; elevated by deep cello loops that deserve to be on a cinema screen. Infinite Space sits delicate piano chords atop heavy Massive Attack style drums; with an analog crackle that nestles amidst a vibrant low end, as the track’s bottom half struts with a dub-laden swagger.
A slow crest peaks like rays of light around grey clouds on Mexican Sunrise; as light percussion propels the verse, giving way to string stabs that lift the tension before sinking; leaving only loose drums looping until the orchestra resumes. The calm funk of Magnetic Monsters settles the album back into it’s cool, before blowing it’s beatmaking beans once again as thick bass tones bang over distorted drums on More Bugle Than A Brass Section, flowing into Cosmic Genome’s 70’s soul-funk flawlessly. The Beautiful Robots is just that; with drum sounds that make me want to play Selected Ambient Works loud on headphones, this painstakingly brief detour into electronica should have lasted longer. Neon Holograms changes direction every thirty seconds with the carefree speed of a drunk driver; while Human Ideology counter-balances it’s predecessor with an exercise in expansion; keeping the central theme much the same, until back-masked drums drop into a sub-section that’s grimmer than one-footed pigeons.
Resonant electronics adorn the regal classicality of The Garden Of England; playing like a knighting ceremony observed from the icy depths of the cosmos, before the title track heats things back up with Lonnie Liston Smith levels of warmth. The soundscapes created on Ouija are some of the most interesting I’ve heard this year, the obvious love Nick Roberts has for good music without genre confinement translates into his tracks, and when you dig into how he’s sequencing these songs you realize Ouija holds more in common with film score than it does your average Yancey or Jackson Jr imitator; the sheer mastery of genre the man displays is mind-blowing. Keep an eye out for anything he releases in the future, and send it to me as soon as you find it.
Buy the album for a fiver, here.