Covertly treading the line between Lewis Parker’s golden sound and Piero Piccioni’s mafioso breaks, this new release from PhybaOptikz is a stealthy sojourn told through a slew of underworld crime sagas. Each tune boasts dramatic bars from the London emcee that vividly scripts entertaining scenes as he and his Crate Divizion cohorts evade the law in getaway cars, dump their enemies in rubbish bins and shift major weight from overseas. The production from Giallo Point and Vic Grimes filters the shadowy underworld of seventies exploitation cinema through their samplers to emerge with a chilled but often ominous tone; lending the project a distinct sense of urgency that simmers under a cool outward demeanour like the seasoned criminals they conjure.
From the smooth horns and harps that begin Assignment, to the athletic snares and mellow keys that close Diamonds, the LP is a massively immersive listen that comes as a welcome break from the norm. PhybaOptik’z rhymes twist and turn as his intricate tales unwind; on Snatch he hoards dope adjectives like there’s about to be a word drought, and the proficiency he displays for characterization on Hitman takes his wordplay to a whole new level with razor-sharp observations delivered with a light touch, all the while sounding as if he’s got one eye on the rhymepad and one on the exit; creating the Hip Hop equivalent of De Niro’s diner speech in Heat. This crew of crate diggers and espionage aficionados have crafted a hugely promising start on Tales Of Danger, marking themselves as ones to watch over the coming months.
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London-based producer Mr Brown has just dropped a fresh batch of boom-bap goodness with plenty of laidback listening for the rest of your summer. If you checked his recent Dusty Platter guest mix you’ll know the man is no stranger to crate diggin, and on 4our3ree his years invested in production show, as he assembles beautifully simple sounds with a light touch and plenty of attention to detail.
The first of four immaculate tracks begins with Fireside, setting it off smooth with spectral sax melodies adrift on calm waves of ambient piano; while plump kicks course under hazy strings on PassaBy, and Cru Day lingers with smoked-out sunshine vibes. For beatheads the sonic sensibilities are irresistible, it’s like the whole Redef roster planted themselves in Pete Rock’s basement and went to town on the SP, and as Summa closes on another high note, Mr Brown’s acute ear for dope loops has to be heard to be believed.
Klaus Layer’s modern reinterpretations of the Golden-Era sound continue to improve with every new release Redef presses to wax. His ear for memorable loops and dedication to granular, low-bit breaks ensures his beats stay dusted, and while the sample sources that distinguish his sound might be vintage, his approach to sampling is anything but. The title track picks up where The Adventures Of Captain Crookleft off with a hefty helping of filtered loops and swinging snares; but it’s on Kool aka Resurgent Branch where things become interesting. There’s more vocal cuts than before, more focus on the bassline, and shorter chops arranged throughout to accentuate phrases, it seems Klaus is living up to that surname, with sequencing that shows more variation this time around. Washed-out notes linger in mid-air then cascade over raspy drums on Sun Is Up, while Dreams Of Yesterday subtlybreaks up the boom-bap, before Animals Garden brings that bump back with head-rocking kick patterns under a neat guitar loop.
Lounging keys recline against neck-snapping snares on Be As You Are, then Klaus switches sample source and flips some eighties electronic ambience on No Pantomime, before No Joke kicks with hype vocal cuts and a break so dusty hitting play might make you sneeze. The sweeping strings of Watching Fireflies soon fade into Coming Into The World‘s summertime vibes as an ethereal Rhodes loop fizzes amidst mellow pipes on this highlight; while the smooth, Madlib-style vocal chops of Symbol Of Tomorrow end another quality collection of instrumentals from Klaus Layer; if his diggin’ continues to expand in musical scope, and his flirtation with other genres continues to be reflected in his arrangements, there can only be many more flawless instrumentals from the Berlin-based producer on the horizon.
Legendary Ugly Duckling MC Dizzy Dustin and seasoned UK Producer and vinyl junkie Danny Spice have combined to release their new limited edition 7″ Incredible via Kista’s Soundweight label. This one-time run of 300 pressings sees Spice looping stripped-back breaks like Herc did back in the day; perfectly recreating the solid funk foundation that established the genre with a cheeky nod to the heavily-sought sound that keeps record collectors diggin regularly. With dope wildstyle artwork from Spek, and quality old school rhymes from Dizzy that flow as groovy as the bassline, there’s no way your head won’t be knocking as Spice scratches Mr Lif on the chorus; and by the time Dustin’s second verse literally begins with ‘verse 2′ the pair’s infectious elation and dedication to the time-honoured tradition of ‘peace, love, and having fun’ is bound to rub off.
The B side gets you the instrumental, and if you’re lucky you can get Kista’s one-off, hand-painted test press; which will be sent at random to one of the 300 that pre-order the 45 here. Alternatively, for heads unencumbered by the lumbering need to feed your phonograph fresh wax, you can grab the digital version from itunes here.