The highly acclaimed Paris/Montreal-based producer, Dela, is back with his sophomore album, following up on the brilliant “Changes of Atmosphere” with “Translation Lost.” Changes of Atmosphere featured an eclectic mix of artists and Translation Lost is, thankfully, no different as Dela sets to display his versatility with varying beat styles and speeds on an album that is sure to please fans and newcomers alike.
Dela stated on his website that he hadn’t planned to release an album, however, after toying with an MPC 1000, a turntable and computer speakers, beats quickly accumulated and one thing led to another. Most were used for side projects that have yet to be released. Though some had what’s he’s called a “special feel”, therefore he decided to put them together to create what would become Translation Lost.
Much of the album was composed in Montreal in 2009 and 2010, and the vinyls Dela came across when visiting record stores throughout the city shaped the sonics of the album. Translation Lost places heavy emphasis on drums, the instrument Dela calls “the most important instrument in Hip-Hop music.”
Aliya, who his tasked with opening and closing the album with her spoken word poetry, had this to say on the theme of the Transition Lost:
“Translation Lost is about love stories gone wrong. It’s about that very moment in a relationship when two people can’t understand each other anymore.” With the theme in mind, let’s proceed.
I’ll be honest and say, other than previous Dela releases, I wasn’t too familiar with Reach before listening to “Go On”, the first track on the album after the intro. And he’s not the kind of guy that you can research easily either, try typing “reach” in to Google and you can imagine the millions upon millions of results that you’ll be hit with before the young rapper named Reach. Therefore I’m still none the wiser as to who Reach actually is besides the fact that he’s based in Kansas. But rest assured that he spits two dope verses on this track in which his name rings through as he talks of reaching for one’s dreams. Reach’s rhymes not only fit perfectly with Dela’s soulful beat but also the video that was released alongside the track.
When given the task of reviewing an album, it’s usually best to give it a non-stop listen through first. Detailed analysis and repetition of favourites is reserved for second and third rotation. Therefore to put the sheer brilliance of this track in perspective: I was stuck on “Mars III”, the third track on the album, for the best part of 45 minutes. When a song can make you disregard the rest of an album without having heard the other songs yet, you know it’s something special.
It’s very rare for beats standing alone to be able to leave the listener with a whole host of emotions and memories. “Mars III” is a perfect example of how a song can mean different things to different people, evoke different feelings and strum up completely unique imagery. The soft vocals accompanied by a mellow piano loop can mean whatever you want them to. The absence of someone reciting rhymes over the track allows for the input of your own thoughts and meanings. The song is heavily centred around a Nas sample from the track “One Love”.
It could – and should – be argued that there is no wrong time for a Nas sample. The young Nas had that gravely voice that captured the pain of a generation, and still manages to resonate through all the ages of Hip Hop. That Translation Lost is studded with introspective samples and subtle quotes from the Queensbridge legend should therefore be welcomed, and Dela’s paying dues to the greats be praised.
[wpaudio url=”https://www.thewordisbond.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/04/03-Mars-Pt.-III.mp3″ text=”DELA – Mars, Pt. III” dl=”0″]
After you manage to pry yourself away from “Mars III” we’re gifted with a track featuring Blu, one of two he appears on (not including the “WhatUWanna” Remix). Continuing with the general theme of the album, Blu’s rhymes feature the usual topics of love, relationships, life and looking back in retrospect.
“WhatUWanna” provides everything you would expect from a collaboration between Dela and Blu. A classic sounding piano hook, catchy drum kicks and a buttery soft flow from the emcee we can now surely call the best rapper still breathing on the West Coast.
Dela transitions smoothly on with the likes of “1 Second Time Machine”, a quirky jazz instrumental and “West Side Story”, another ode to love from the famous movie of the same name, which samples Roger and Zapp’s “Heartbreaker”.
“Jay Electropietricus” is a smooth soulful track which almost certainly takes it’s title from one of Hip Hop’s most promising talents, Jay Electronica, and his love for sampling movie scores within tracks. Dela samples Louis Malle’s movie “Ascenseur Pour L’Echafaud”, a gem of French cinema and a film the producer stated was of great inspiration during the making of Transition Lost. “Jay Electronopietricus” is slap-bang in the middle of the album and proves the pivotal moment in depicting the actual theme of Transition Lost through the movie sample.
[wpaudio url=”https://www.thewordisbond.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/04/07-Jay-Electropietricus.mp3″ text=”DELA – Jay Electropietricus” dl=”0″]
The album winds down with an array of soothing beats and voices. The vocals Sowlie provides on “Chunky Monkeying” are, once again, perfectly infused with drum kicks and guitar rifts. Guitar rifts so smooth Jorge Ben would be proud (if you don’t know, get to know).
Dela decides to end Transition Lost just as he started it, with some spoken word poetry by Aliya. Despite the melancholy theme throughout the album, Aliya puts a positive slant on the loss of translation: “We’ll meet again.”
One aspect that really stood out in this album, compared to previous releases, was Dela’s confidence in letting his beats do the talking. The tracks accompanied by nothing but vocals prove most impressive in highlighting the producer’s true capabilities. Drums, techno influences, jazz, blues and lonely piano loops all go in to making this a very clean, smooth album.
Although he insists this is not a concept album, Dela states: “Melancholy, nostalgia, but also hope and aspiration, these are the feelings Translation Lost will inspire.” It may not be one to throw on for the loud, sunny-day, party times, but Transition Lost should be considered for all other moods and occasions.