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Bambooman – Dulcet EP


srr008v.jpgLabel: Sonic RouterScore: 7.5/10

I really liked the last Bambooman EP on Sonic Router – one of my favourite beat centric imprints – so as always, I was really excited when the ‘Dulcet EP’ landed in my inbox.

For those that haven’t heard Bambooman before he makes “ beats-influenced, slow-jam bass music, replete with shed loads of found sound, natural reverberation, vocal snippets and a wide, but cogent, palette of sounds and noises”

His new EP follows a similar formula to his last Sonic Router release although I think this one is a bit more groove-led that the stuff I have heard from him before.

He tackles ‘Ducet’ not like an EP, which is oh so often just a small collection of tracks without any discernable theme or aesthetic uniformity – which is all good and sometimes is exactly what people actually want – but more like an full length album with tracks seemingly seguing into each other and sharing common ideas and motifs.

Opening number ‘Birth’ is just that. You stand on a windswept moor, walking through this imagined field, as smatterings of found sound, retro sounding arpeggios and a vocal sample that proclaims “we are going to try and go fast enough to go into the night” ushers you nicely into the strange, minimal beat number ‘Clasp’ – a playful number that flips its kick/snare miniature hip hop drum beat into slow-mo club mode about half-through, before returning to beat mode for the final section, with all kinds of rattling wooden noises accompanying the rhythm track which eventually dissolves into that retro sounding arp line seen at the very beginning of the record.

‘Knox’ carries on with the miniature hip hop theme – I keep saying miniature as because, although very textured, with found sound and general atmospheric hum and hiss, the tunes seem to have been mixed by a club producer rather than a beatsmith (again nothing wrong with this at all), in short it has been very professionally rendered with all the frequencies and pertinent pan positions locked down and fully represented, which to me is not something I have come across to much within the instrumental hip hop circles I roll with. Anyway ‘Knox’ unites a lovely, swung hip hop beat with a clean, envelope attack synth organ line, a sci-fi sequenced synth line, home-spun atmospherics and some nice vocal manipulation.

‘Esama’ ends side A of the vinyl by flipping up the mood of record from synthetic wonderland into ‘future world music’ – or what I imagine world music in the future will sound like anyway. It features what sounds like some African children chanting something uplifting, with a wooden block melody that is lushly juxtaposed with synthetic bleeps and bloops, a booming 808-esq kick drum keeping the riddim, and some evocative pad work that combines with the world music flavours deliciously.

Side B sees similar techniques utilised as the first half of the record but in a more uptempo, experimental environment. ‘Dulcet’ combines lovely vocal manipulations that add up to more than just a collection of one-shots – actually feeling nicely similar to the emotional response Burial evokes with the way he treats vocals (albeit in a completely different context) – with a club-ready percussive sub-line and instrumentation that makes you want to get all wavey on the dancefloor whilst coming up.

‘Bodies’ channels acoustic 80s vibes with Chris Clark-esq sensibilities. Rapid fire kick drums combine with double time hi-hats and a load of found sound artefacts resultantly leading to something that sounds pretty much bonkers in a chilled out, sleazy RnB kind of way.

Closer ‘Cast’ is an expansive, soundtrack ready experience that combines everything mr Bambooman does so well into a melting pot of chamber goodness. Its epic, futuristic and steam/cyberpunk at the same time and reminds me a lot of the incidental music and sound effects in the actual Blade Runner film – spinners flying around, machine gently chugging away in a smoggy, dank, rain riddled inner city and all that kind of jazz.

Basically this EP is good as it is kind of like an album in that its best to listen to it in all its glory rather than cherry picking your favourite numbers from it. It’s a head scratcher in that its familiar but very, very different at the same time – a bit like déjà vu – with organic sounds fronting up to synthetic sounds like it aint no thing, and miniature beats complimenting the expansive sci-fi world Bambooman has created. Its definitely worth listening too and I image it sounds great on vinyl as well!

Words: Al Kennedy

Grahame Farmer

Grahame Farmer’s love affair with electronic music goes back to the mid-90s when he first began to venture into the UK’s beloved rave culture, finding himself interlaced with some of the country’s most seminal club spaces. A trip to dance music’s anointed holy ground of Ibiza in 1997 then cemented his sense of purpose and laid the foundations for what was to come over the next few decades of his marriage to the music industry.

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