DJ EFN – Another Time
Trying to talk about a mixtape in any review-centric way is pretty futile; they’re built for a different kind of consumption. After twenty-something years of crafting them, DJ EFN would know. There are however pretty interesting structural choices here offering loose lyrical lineages with some of the emcee groupings. Although I feel a trick was missed by not having M.O.P. on the frontline of the first track where they could have functioned as the rap berserkers that they are; smashing through your eardrums with a flood of artists following after. And a substantial flood it is. With so many emcess and styles mixing in the palette, its impossible to define Another Time with any certainty; there are technical purists, intentionally lethargic flows, sharp social commentary, base ignorance. Trappy drum programming drips swag onto chucking reggae guitars which shake it off onto sampled soul songbirds and the low, vacant synths from the darker recesses of your favourite west coast classics. Enjoy and discard as you please.
Louis Mackey & Thirtyseven – No Humans Allowed II
2011’s No Humans Allowed was about as subtle as a cobra bite to the crotch when it came to high-conspiracy rap. But, nah, that’s reductive. Thrityseven was right on that album with “most of the shit I said is straight over my critic’s head”. Although I’d never call myself a critic, or even a writor, a lot of No Humans Allowed II‘s political content does fly by unacknowledged to me. But the gist is enough to enjoy this album. After all, the vaudeville show of governments and authorities is pretty much the same in every country. But bum-rushing Plato’s Cave with They Live glasses on isn’t Louis Mackey and Thirty Seven’s only operation here, check the middle of the album where the two take on an alternative topic over a flip of that lovely, howling ’60s psych-ballad on ‘Can’t Seem To Make You Mine’. Solid musicality and technicality running throughout makes this some particularly palatable food for thought.
Blue In Green – The Break of Dawn
Re-mastered this month for a vinyl release, The Break of Dawn is Japanese beat maker Blue In Green’s 2011 debut. It’s a jazzy affair as its cover, a nod to Don Patterson’s 1968 Boppin’ & Burnin’, states even before you drop the needle. This outward intent follows through unfalteringly throughout the eleven track strong album; piano keys clink classically, horns bend ductile, and bass strings roll warmly in the mix. A particular quality often favoured amongst instrumental albums, it encourages a diversity of excursions, gaining meanings it probably never intended to; ‘Camellia’ pulls leisurely out of a beachfront hotel in a Willys-Aero, and ‘Rainy Streets’ is… actually just precisely that. Other memorable moments include the spectral crescendo on ‘Blue Wind’ and the vibra/xylophone (I don’t know) and record scratching play on ‘Get Back (To Soulful Music)’. It does however lull a little in character here and there but, regardless, the production presented evidently comes from a personal, well-resourced love for jazz which sets it apart from the many by-the-numbers “jazz-hop” albums that are surely diminishing Bandcamp’s bandwidth at this point.