Tuesday, 31 August 2010

Egyptian Hip Hop - ‘Some Reptiles Grew Wings’ (Moshi Moshi)

Egyptian Hip Hop are a four-piece who, physically, bear a resemblance to a Bizarro version of The Horrors, all bright and cheery with a splash of colour and smiles. And I am going to try and ignore the fact that their music, identity and nationality are quite unlike their moniker and simply review the spectacularly new-fangled sound they introduce to the world on ‘Some Reptiles Developed Wings’, a new EP from the Manchester mob.

The four tracks on the record were produced by the funk mastermind known as Hudson Mohawke (whose album ‘Butter’ must be absorbed immediately for those not in the know) and it shows in the glistening sense of something new that jives it’s way throughout the piece. Opener ‘Moon Crooner’ begins, worryingly, with an 80s synth riff cutting into the track. Thankfully, some Cut Copy stylings and a boogie that screams out Mr Mohawke stage a daring rescue.

Then comes ‘Rad Pitt’, the EPs pinnacle, with front man, Alexander Hewett, in full-on Robert Smith vocal mode, stealing the best of the 80s via disgruntled, emotional lyrics and grumbles. A killer bass and hook, driving from sparse to overwhelming in that special way that I thought only The Cure could complete the look.

‘Middle Name Period’ is one gorgeous instrumental (a rare category in contemporary music), jam-packed with the distinct noise of wood blocks, heavy bass, gyrating space lasers, deformed verbal samples, solitary kick drums and an extended family of formidable percussion. Closer ‘Native’ sums up the Egyptian Hip Hop experience, in that a listen through sees you peacefully meander through several supposed genres that leaves the taste of unexpected innovation and jovial confusion on the tip of your tuneful tongue.

The group are still a very inexperienced group of guys finding a musical flooring, albeit doing so with extremely rare panache and talent. Accordingly so, the odd wandering and rumbling that pop up time and time again on ‘Some Reptiles Developed Wings’ merely show a band testing the water. Egyptian Hip Hop are poking their drumsticks about in the murky mire of the current music scene and finding it overpowering, consequently absorbing and assimilating the great heap of information and morphing it into something listenable, danceable and ridiculously captivating. I hope this sparks more young musicians and artists to try something unique, purely taking stimulation from previous scenes rather than a simple bash and rehash mimicry. A debut album with the perfectly picked producer, who guides the talented hands of Egyptian Hip Hop, could be the launch of a new genre to laud and lavish with praise (and sadly inspire a bunch of bashing, mimicking sound-a-likes but you bloody can’t blame the inventor of the idea).

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