For a genre built on, and named after, trunk-rattling energy bordering on absolute filth, grime also holds a certain power in its calmest moments. Before last year, Mr. Mitch would have been considered a surprise source for that kind of work. The Gobstopper Records founder and London DJ was a monster out the gate, with a self-titled 2010 debut EP and 2012 beat-battle showstopper “Senior Bass” standing as early-career trophies for the producer; his ability to bump the heavy shit but shun cold-concrete aggression for bright, alcopop-buzzed hyperactivity was what made him exciting. Even when he went a little overcast, he did so playfully—for proof, check out the ODB-looping Grime 2.0 highlight “Viking” and its tipsy, bottom-heavy synthesizer whistle. It’s as potent with “Funky Worm” squiggle-synths as classic g-funk was.
That’s why Parallel Memories is surprising. Just a year ago, Mitch was bumping trap-drenched, hip-hop-adjacent bass-war artillery like the Suave EP. But he also made a point of countering last year’s agressive, grime-producer soundclash “war dubs” free-for-all with his own simmered-down “Peace Edits”. Now he’s breaking out with a full-length record that’s more restrained, more skeletal, and often more mournful than anything he’s done before, a metamorphosis from somebody who’s had fans growing to expect them on the regular. And he so regularly nails that transformative take on grime that it’s tempting to assign the things he does here as a new potential signature sound. At the minimum, it gives him a new tool in his kit.
The wide-open hushed silences and swooning interplay between synth hooks and pared-down beats puts Parallel Memories in the neighborhood of something that could be called “ambient grime” if that weren’t a little too pat. But the slow-burning loops, distance-making reverb, and glassy digital melodies are made to envelop, not built to destroy. The first kick on the album doesn’t show up until nearly two and a half minutes into opener “Afternoon After”, and when it does finally thump its way through warped-Minimoog swells that chirp like the offspring of harps and whistles, it sounds like a bomb being dropped. That’s just one bracing use of negative space, and in a track more suited to scene-setting; in the cuts with more of a focus on rhythm—as busy as the plastic clatter of “Intense Faces” or as screwed-down as the deep-snow trudge of “Hot Air”—the sawed-off beats hit harder for the air around them.
But what’s remarkable is how many different moods Mitch is able to evoke this way. Take “Don’t Leave”: it’s simple—and staggeringly effective—to draw off the power of a sampled hook like he does with Blackstreet’s “Don’t Leave Me”, pitting virtuoso R&B vocal intensity alongside delicate, wandering, halting digital melodies that create deep tension with two different strains of slow-motion heartache. But the calm that masks tension also sweetens harshness, like the way the subtly martial snap-thump stutter-step beats of “Intense Faces” shed their gloom the moment he brings in its plinky keyboard counterpoint. And even inside those juxtapositions, there are different shades and detours that provoke mood swings through each loop. “The Night” is frayed nerves or lucid relaxation depending on the angle, a recurring indistinct voice repeating the same two syllables that could either be calling somebody’s name or waving them goodbye. “Bullion” plays out like a electro banger slowed to a crawl because the gears are gummed up, and draws out an odd, ill-at-ease feel of triumphant queasiness in the process. And “Sweet Boy Code”, a Peace Edit of Dark0’s “Sweet Boy Pose”, maintains the original’s fast-forward euphoria even at half-speed, floating through frozen time with a lightheaded clarity. There’s plenty of room for interpretation in the margins of this music—but there’s even more room to breathe, and to move.
from Album Reviews – Pitchfork http://ift.tt/1s6DmYc