Like a young crew of Hip Hop Lee Ritenour’s, Sumochief bring the smooth progressive jazz on their latest EP. Their unique filter finds them re-contextualizing Dilla and Busta interview snippets over shape-shifting guitar runs from Oscar Laurence on 1of1; Joe Armon-Jones scatters loose keys amongst Olly Sarkar’s swinging snares, with both moving from background to lead roles during the song’s seven minute odyssey, anchored by Jack Polley’s walking basslines that orbit a central refrain. Gator Season continues this immersive journey with another winding epic, this time drawing inspiration from Frank Zappa as his poignant words float above glissando guitars and mellow organs, driven by a swinging beat.
The band’s boom bap influence shines on through the lyrical styles Slam The Poet and Cecil B Demented drop on Segundo, while Happy Joy revels in the dance not the destination; slowly building in intensity while further clarifying the band’s take on creative expression through timeless teachings from the Alan Watts series Tao Of Philosophy. London emcee MADLean blesses the closing track It Is What It Is with confident flows, amplifying the aspects that made his 2013 release Batteries Not Includedsuch a banger as he gets busy over piano lines so sample-able you’d they came off Poinciana. Training in classical jazz may not be the first trait you look for when searching for new Hip Hop artists, but it’s gifted the four men in Sumochief the knowledge to assemble some of this year’s most interesting instrumentals; don’t sleep.
Apollo Brown must listen to a lot of good records; his ear for selecting samples is highly honed, but it’s the musicality of his arrangements that allows Thirty Eight to transcend anything you’ve heard from him previously. His music is assembled with 70’s soul sensibilities; sitting amidst blaxploitation cinema’s rugged analog crackle, Eastcoast boom-bap’s cool delivery, and modern production’s technical sheen. For anyone with even a passing interest in production the album is essential, while the tunes are so tonally rich any casual lover of decent music can find gems within it’s twenty diverse tracks. Slow, funk guitars cruise under flute loops on the intro, shifting into clean drums draped in thick organ loops on Cellophane to transition from the producer’s recent Ghostface remix project into this.Luminous female voices adorn Learn The Meaning and Shotguns In Hell, before the sweet sounds on Dirt On The Ground make for a standout track; with flips that shift terse cuts into silken loops.
The Warning‘s cool brass stalks from the shadows, while Cleo’s Apartment and Life Is A Wheel step into the light to transform well-worn samples into exciting new compositions as the former hazily floats on perfect chord progression, and the latter shivers with icy atmospherics. The sweet sounds of old soul gets an inventive modern twist on Never Disappear and All You Know; while emotive vocals and dynamic melodies make for another highlight on Heaven At Last. Lonely and Cold pulls off a recurring Wu-vocal chop with a catchy chorus loop that had me anticipating the distraught delivery of Ghost; while snares roll under elegant female chorus on A Wise Man’s Woman; Brown’s immaculate palette becoming even more tasteful as the LP progresses. TheAnswer‘s swooning voices finalize this ill journey through skilled production with one of the album’s most memorable hooks; demonstrating the Detroit-based producer’s skill at maintaining a constantly varied and captivating soundscape throughout. With Thirty Eight Apollo Brown’s already proficient beat game elevates another level; capturing the mellow, smoked-out coolness that lingers under his high flute samples as easily as he dips into gritty low pass filters and heavy kicks.
Grab it digitally at Mello’s bandcamp here. The physical version for the UK comes out around June 2nd.
As one of the crate diggin’ devotees over at North-West UK label Northern Structure; Bambu Hands has been proficient in the art of sampling for a while, and with this latest instalment in a series of themed beat tapes, he takes all his old soul vinyl and alchemically transforms them into twenty two dusty instrumentals to get your head nodding. Utilizing the archetypal MPC2000xl, and the iconic SP1200 via every effects unit he could get his ( Bambu ) hands on; the producer found his own twist on the classic boom bap recipe, blended it with plenty of natural swing, and topped that mix with a hefty helping of clattering snares straight out of the golden era. He even went as far as to record his tracks to tape after finishing them; lending the entire album that warm, analog glow that acts as Hip Hop Horlicks for the vinyl-hungry.
TheScript‘s amazingly lucid loops and tight kick patterns establish the vintage sound that courses throughout the tape, before Pass It Over plays out like lost Lord Finesse; coming steeped in the sound of the street with rugged snares for days and a dope use of the ubiquitous fading sax stab that’s been seeing heavy use ever since No I.D’s use of the technique on Common’s Resurrection album. The low-filtered funk on Bad Vibes blows through like a calm breeze; giving rise to Soul Brother‘s echoing snares and catchy brass notes, before nocturnal vibes creep in on Late Night Shift and the tape takes a turn down a darker path. Just One Wrong Move is a guttural, menacing track that leaves you anticipating a blade to the ribs at any second.
Jehst’s esoteric words echo through nebulous notes on Thick Mist, followed shortly after by DOOM’s ‘got more soul (sole) than a sock with a hole’ on Close To Midnight’s spaced-out jazz loops as the tape continues it’s ascent;escalating it’s efforts at the point most beat tapes begin to decline. With this volume of tracks keeping the listening interesting for the duration is no easy feat, but seems to be sidestepped with ease by the producer as he switches up the raw styles from minor sounds to a more major key towards The Lost Soul‘s end. The heavy ambience of Dirty Money captures emotion with a film-score steez; pitched vocal chops haunt the distance on Caught Up, hounded by minimalist, vibrant brass that rings out clearly as Daily Bread invites you to lounge out to it’s calming tones. Premium harnesses the power of Verb T’s words from his YNR début to speak of eternal life, then It’s Over stacks subdued breaks over yet more catchy loops, with a supreme selection of short chops that close the tape on a high. The Lost Soul comes draped in nostalgia, and despite a clear ability to emulate classic production unbelievably well; it’s going to be cool to see where this promising producer takes his music on future projects, without the limitation of sampling only old soul breaks.
The Lost Soul is out now on Northern Structure Records, you can grab it here, and keep up on what the label are lining up for 2014 here.