aspects - mystery theatre?
the promotional words :
Ladies and Gentlemen… It's time to take your seats at the Mystery Theatre, an 11-track musical odyssey that draws the listener into the psychedelic world of Bristol-based Aspects, where hip-hop collides with surf rock, reggae and folk. Aspects are vocalists El Eye (Ian Merchant) and Probe Mantis (Ben Weaver), producer Specify (Ryan Jarrett) and beat-boxer Monkey Moo (Rory Donnelly). Think 'Smile'-era Brian Wilson producing the Beastie Boys with the Beta Band on sample duties.
Mystery Theatre is an album unhindered by trends, drawing inspiration from the past to create new musical forms. Beatmeister Specify explains, “To understand our music you've got to imagine Hip-Hop existed in the 60’s. We use analogue production values and psychedelic song writing to create our own type of sound; 60’s rap!” El Eye adds; “We make pirate music. We’re pirates, sailing along plundering genres for their soul, assimilating their funk then we’re moving on to the next port.”
The lyrical content draws candidly on personal tragedy and conquest more in keeping with Johnny Cash's biblical tales of woe than Jay-Z's grandiose gutter reportage. El Eye's lyrics have an intense, measured delivery, that blur the boundaries between rap, spoken word and song, while Probe Mantis' mercurial flow and deft punch-lines are sure to have the most po-faced listener in stitches.
"With this record we've tried to meld old-fashioned song writing with modern rap lyrics, the key thing we tried to do is take the ego out of our raps," opines El Eye. "At the end of the day there's only so many variations of saying 'I am the greatest'. Without trying to sound like a twat, Bob Dylan was a big inspiration"
“The City Limits” evokes the claustrophobia of city life while “Chase The Devil” is a hymn to the working man’s plight. Underpinned by a delicate folk guitar riff, “Man Under The Sea” is a personal tale of one man’s failing struggle with depression, while “Off The Lip” is an escapist summer surfing anthem. All of the above take the listener on an intensely personal journey into the mindset of Aspects.
Since the release of their feted debut 'Correct English' in 2001 (including the daytime radio success of their NME Single Of The Week 'My Genre') Aspects have spent the interim period honing their distinctive sound. A key event in their musical evolution has been a burgeoning friendship with Isle Of Wight psychadelic funksters The Bees.
“We met on tour, and in the absence of any other normal people we ganged up, they're the sort of kids we hang out with at home. Working with them in their studio really freed up our minds, it gave us the confidence to break loose from the traditional hip-hop constraints. We're definitely gonna be working together in the future.”
Aspects have kept the featured artists on 'Mystery Theatre' to the bare essentials; enlisting The Bees to supply the Beach Boys-style harmonics for the chorus of the sun-drenched 'Off The Lip', and ragga MC Alkaline guests with a tongue-twisting lyrical display on the reggae stylings of 'Chase The Devil'. Little Barrie contribute raw soul power and intricate guitar work on lonely-hearts anthem “Soul Sister”.
In 'Mystery Theatre', Aspects have fashioned a truly unique, epic record in the tradition of such weird and wonderful brews as De La Soul's 'Three Feet High & Rising' and The Coral's self titled debut. Equal parts Noir, Tragedy, Comedy and Action Adventure; 'Mystery Theatre' has all the ingredients required to be a future classic. So, quiet please ladies and gents, the curtain is about to rise…
2. Off The Lip Feat. The Bees
3. Way Back
4. Man Under The Sea
5. Rev. Soul
6. Soul Sister Feat. Little Barrie
7. The Way She Speaks
8. Self Help Song
9. Chase The Devil Feat. Alkaline
10. Droppin' Drums
11. City Limits
13. My World