Monday, 24 October 2011

Instance - The Superegular (Review)

After an 18 month hiatus it’s fair to say West Yorkshire hiphop artist Instance is back with a boom proving the time taken away from the scene certainly hasn’t been wasted. With the independent release of his second LP ‘The Superegular’ and an impressive debut battle at Don’t Flop it would seem the self assured wordsmith is one underground artist to keep a close eye on. With an impressive roster of collaborations and one of the most distinctive voices in the scene, all eyes are on his latest release.

From the outset, the bass heavy and abstract ‘Haiku’, and the smooth RnB vibes of ‘Swerve That’, are a refreshing break from the predictable sounds and concepts that many hiphop artists seem all so willing to revisit. It’s a project densely packed with descriptive songs like ‘I’m Trouble’ and ‘Ghost’, but also the puzzle like lyrics in ‘Parodox’ and ‘Lucid Dreams’ are reminiscent of old skool hiphop whilst being firmly set in 2011 and beyond. As a complete piece of work The Superegular initially seems to be fragmented, but after a repeat listen it blends together as modern and intelligent.

The simple vividness of tracks like ‘Favourite Mistake’ and ‘Passenger’ help create a lo-fi and smoky world which instance crafts with deadly effect. However, the album isn’t entirely consistent with ‘Don’t Get it Twisted’ seeming like a bit of an afterthought, and two interludes that unnecessarily break the album into 3 parts. Featured artists on the album are used sparingly including a collaboration with Jack Flash who appears on the upbeat ‘Keys Open Doors’.  

One thing that resonates throughout the album is the dark and sombre emotions that bleed through the songs and give the album a conceptual feel. Instance uses different flows with catchy hooks and the sung choruses on tracks like ‘Passenger’ prove he is an effective song writer as well as lyrically assertive. Production comes from the likes of UK heavyweights Sonar Cousin and Wizard, lesser known producers such as Organised Mess and Makes Van from Russia also make important contributions. The production whilst not completely polished is consistently captivating and interesting.  Intriguing production is perhaps best shown on the beautiful and gloomy ‘Ghost’ which describes a sex and drug fuelled 24hrs with a girl.

Whilst the album has almost no light moments or let up in heavy themes, apart from a comical appearance from Sonnyjim on the title track, listeners should not be put off, as the candour is delivered with taste and a touch of mystery. Within the down tempo feel of the album and bleakness of the subject matter, there is a welcome lack of vulgarity or gangster bravado which so often compensates for lack of creativity.

In conclusion, there is a level of maturity in the music and a willingness to experiment outside the box. It is the subtle and suggestive danger within The Superegular and the coolness in which it is delivered which make it so successful and at times sinister. Where lyrical comparisons could be drawn with other artists, instance’s gravelly tone sets him apart in a scene littered with carbon copy MC’s. For an independent release by an unsigned artist, The Superegular is a cold and slickly delivered statement of intent. Even by standards set by commercial releases which often fall short of expectations, it is a unique record which delivers something fresh. It goes up there with ‘Ghostpoet - Peanut Butter Blues and Melancholy Jam’ for one my favourite discoveries of the year.

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Review by Ruby Khan

Twitter: @rubyrubykhan

1 comment:

Jammy Git said...

Love the review really informative. Made me download it!!!