For years Mitsu The Beats has been flying the flag for independent Hip Hop in his native country of Japan, making beautifully arranged instrumentals that are notoriously hard to cop on vinyl as he expands upon the jazz-laden loops Nujabes brought to prominence. This loving tribute to J Dilla marks the first time Mitsu has made his tunes available on an easy to buy platform like bandcamp, opening his music up to a wider audience outside of record collector circles and sample-hungry beat junkies.
It’s Dilla’s essence that seems to provide the main inspiration as Mitsu evokes the chilled, uplifting feeling that radiated from Jay’s music; moving beyond the realms of the obvious by cutting back on the un-quantized kicks and heavy swing that would characterize a more overt tribute. Speaking on Dilla’s innovative Fantastic Volume 2 and Welcome To Detroit albums, Mitsu states; ‘I have never been influenced so much by music in my life, and probably never will be.’ This heavy respect can be felt throughout as his intention ‘to dedicate an album for him in order to reflect on my present self’ manifests in every essential track, making Celebration Of Jay one of the classier odes to the SV sample king.
Since their work on Verb T’s last remix album, this triplet of talented Slovenian producers have been busy assembling another fine instalment in their series of seasonal releases. Offering a varied and expansive sound, their musical mood draws from every corner of the arid sonic landscape they channel for inspiration; making for a quick, entertaining listen that’s thoughtfully well assembled. Kings begins with an immediate departure from their previously boom-bap sound, incorporating rolling southern snares and fizzing electronics that soon dissolve into Pa-Neck The Serpent; the second track as much of a curveball as the first, finding the crew juggling loose timpani and swinging hats over a stomping bassline.
Sandstorm moves to distinctly Indian climes through warming strings fortified by melodic vocal chops, while Gauld is a personal highlight for it’s simple, effective organ loops that amble along under more perfect voicings; calmly echoing the sweltering soundscapes they invoke, before they increase the heat further on Bloodrun. Red Pyramid‘s triumphant tones close out the album as strongly as it began, neatly illustrating the group’s ability to make beats that both scream out for an MC to come destroy them, and stand alone as interesting compositions. On Dry Season Urban Click have raised the bar they previously set themselves through this sequence of inventive instrumental EPs, elevating their sound every time they serve up a fresh batch of beats.
Redefinition Records co-owner and prolific Washington-based producer Damu The Fudgemunk never fails to bring the heat, and with a sound that passionately embraces Hip Hop’s roots yet always brings something new to the table, his latest LP is no exception. Re-mastered by veteran producer K-Def, Public Assembly merges previously unreleased songs with hard to find versions of his more popular tracks, and although the vinyl release was originally intended to coincide with the WFMU record fair in New York, with a street date of July 8th; the label are shipping orders online right now.
Hole Up comes draped in the 90’s sound, with vibraphone lines flowing over lazy horns and a song structure that holds more in common with free jazz than it does your average boom-bap-beatsmith; furthering Damu’s recent move beyond linear song progression to form meandering, musically progressive sections over rugged breaks.Truly Get Yours treads the line between subtlety and heavy-handedness with agility; while his Wings Remix of the Union & Elzhi track stands out for it’s dusted drum hits, and Madvillain Revision takes Madlib’s original to smooth new plains; replacing the goofy charm of the DOOM version with echoing horns, melodic vocals and a bubbling crescendo that had me reciting Guru lyrics.
Streamline is one of his freshest instrumentals so far; with so many serene sample choices you’d think every chop came off the same record; while Overthrone showcases his skill for layering complimentary sounds, as he cuts classic rhymes into this hazy blend that smoothly transitions into the lounging ballroom jazz of Same Beat. His 2010 Supply For Demand LP provides the OG mix of Bright Side, continuing the chilled vibes with complimentary chord changes and constantly inventive snare hits; leaving Yes We Can to close this dope compilation with a shuffling hi-hat pattern amid infectious vocal cuts and winding sax lines. Unsurprisingly,Public Assembly is rock solid from start to finish, serving as a perfect introduction for the newcomer, and a handy re-issue for the vinyl-eager Redef completist.
Get the brown or black vinyl editions here, or the digital download here.
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.