Tuesday, 19 October 2010

RECOMMENDED: Maxmillion Dunbar – Cool Water [Ramp Recordings]

Ramp are really flexing their muscles of late. Unsatisfied with only being one ‘buy on sight’ label they’ve had to spread out into three with both BRAiNMATH and PTN leeching off Tom Kerridge’s veins, and making waves of their own with the former being enigmatically understated and the other pushing hyper colour UK funky hybrids. With both now starting to find their feet its become easy to forget the mothership that is: Ramp Recordings.

Working in a reverse process to Numbers, who morphed three labels into one, Ramp has bled across three platforms. It seems there really is no concrete formula when you’re running a label... all of which brings us to Maximillion Dunbar, an artist who represents how Ramp felt before it fractured, and Cool Water vibes off that hip hop energy the label really birthed itself with, when releasing records by people like Count Bass D, Flying Lotus & Declaime and Computer Jay.

Dunbar really hits his stride when he reaches for the boogie, that no-man’s-land between house and hip hop. Tracks like the acid house drum workout ‘Rhythm Track For Rashied Ali’ or ‘Girls Dream’ and ‘Pretty Please’ meet in that middle ground between the two, a place where labels like Ramp and Eglo have really flourished. Its a place where retro drum machines, catchy samples and analogue synths bump heads in some sort of slow-mo funk and waggle dance an area where early house and heavy handed boom bap collide, but you know, about 30 years later...

You can stand Maxmillion next to the likes of Funkineven and Arp 101 on one side, and - this is where the flip is really felt - Aphex Twin in ambient mode on the other. ‘Lemon and Lime’ feels like a laid back variant on classic Aphex track ‘Film,’ it’s airy melodies playing off that camera click, machine funk drum patterns in a track that oozes a lethargic beauty. The catchiest flute loop since... well PTN unleashed ‘Fatherless’ is found on ‘Original Soundtrack Flutes’, a track that gets a lo-fi bump going while it plays about in a eastern panpipe-fashion and then ‘Breathe What You Say’ goes all new-wave vocoder, beatless synth fun. Both ‘Sno Mega’ and ‘Way Down’ really feel like they where built in a boogie neverland where Wiley and disco-funk met with those crystalline synths stabbing like icicles as the slinky electro grooves slow enough to get the head nodding.

Words: James Balf
Out: Now


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