Even since Tinie Tempah’s fantastic ‘Pass Out’, I’ve considered Labrinth to be one
of the most inventive chart producers around, and this recent track of his is once again
full of surprises. The beat is certainly a curiosity, achieving the same kind of ponderous
gait we heard on ‘Pass Out’, which nonetheless manages to conjure a sense of a faster
rhythmic motion underneath the surface — most obviously through the vocal arrangement
and the chain-like percussion ‘echoes’ after each snare hit, but also via subtle
synth-envelope modulations and the soft, retriggered, vocal-like effect that first appears
in the chorus at 0:53.
But it’s the programming of the main synths that
really slays me. Not only does the extrovert pitch-sliding of the riff’s parallel ninths
create a fantastic hook in its own right (it somehow reminds me of Led Zep’s ‘Dazed &
Confused’), but the sound and line are both varied throughout the track. No creative
synth line seems complete without a bit of squidgy filtering, and that’s one ingredient
that’s used extensively throughout (the high-pass-filtered fill at 0:38 is great, for
instance), but there’s more to enjoy in terms of differences in the layering of the
sounds and the occasional effect spin — such as the delay tail just before the first
chorus at 0:51. My favourite part of it, though, is the way that the pitch-glide doesn’t
always just connect the riff notes, but occasionally heads off in the opposite direction
first — for example, at the end of the first and third bars of the four-bar riff (at
1:01, say) where the pitch shoots momentarily skywards right at the end of the bar, before
plummeting down to its true low-pitched destination on the following downbeat.
On top of that, this track should surely have walked away with some kind of Brit Award
for ‘Most Barking-mad Breaks In A Chart Single’. Exhibit A: the ludicrously brilliant
royal fanfare at 1:27; Exhibit B: a full 15 seconds of Enya impersonation at 2:06. Ladies
and gentlemen, I rest my case.
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