Thursday, 12 April 2012

The 2kDozen 500: #136 - Quakers, "Quakers"

Geoff Barrow from Portishead keeps looming larger and more largerer in my brainseye.

Firstly, there was Portishead, though I had no idea that any kind of Geoff was involved in any form. They were good, but didn't hang over my imagination that heavily. Then there was the ATP at Minehead in 2007 - one of the best I can remember: John Cooper Clarke, for fuck's sake! Then there is Drokk!, a 200AD tribute album that is making the way out of the Justice Department pipeline some time right soon. (Also to appear on here.) But for now is Quakers.

A 35-strong collective of hip hop types across a couple of generations of business that revolve around Geoff and a couple of other producers have put this album out on Stones Throw. It does feel like a boutique hip hop project, a touch vintage, a sniff of the backpack. I'm not sure what I can contribute to this half-baked idea other than lazy assumptions about middle-aged white men from Somerset. I have one lazy, lazy mind.

I don't recognise and or know a lot of collaborators, so I'm listening with even naiver ears than usual. The tracks are all pretty short, which I love. Record your idea then get the fuck out of Dodge. There's a link with about 20 of the tracks here - right here, but the album's out, so start your engines.

The stand-out track that I've been scoffing up on the last couple of weeks is "Fitta Happier", which boombasts over a loop of a college brass band (I figure) blaring out a version of Radiohead across some privileged lawn somewhere or other before one collection of muscle and bone throws itself into contest with another similar aggregate of gristle.

"Sidewinder" has a rich Fela Kuti noise in the brass/bass combo in the backing track - serious magnetic gravy bobbing with serious biscuits. "Belly of the Beast" has Emilio Rojas working out his dark, paranoid fantasies of taking Obama to task in murderous style over malevolent, buzzing beats and rattling snares. "Dark City Lights" swoops straight in on the hang-glider from Escape From New York and Frank Nitty uses the word "wherewithall", which is never heard enough anywhere. "The Beginning" splices Snoop and Sergio Leone and Finnegan's Wake to a smoooth effect, getting digs in on "supermarket funky muzak/You're better off selling crack". Coin Locker Kid also appears on "Russia With Love" listing his ladies. The cad.

I'm reminded of *Aspects as well as the Doom repertoire. That same stash of music and dodgy ideas to draw on, but from a more ornate hinterland than the likes of Rizzlekicks - B-movies and sneaked arcane knowledge from the pre-digital times. Like 2000AD for example. And beautiful antiquarian electronic noises. And crisp, tingly beats with dry ice in their veins. And a psychedelic creep in the corner of the cornea. Maybe I'm the target for this nostalgia-guided missal, but it hits. It hits.

"I forgot more good lines that even I have."

Rating: Richly Wrangled out of Big Dusty Crates

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