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Roots Manuva- Slime & Reason LP Review (8.5/10)
on 30 July 2008
South London's finest Rooty-Toot Maunva (aka Rodney Smith) is back with his fourth and most varied album yet. 3 years since his last release proper, Roots Manuva has shown he is an artist who hasn't been afraid to experiment with his sound, implementing a host of influences from the classic roots-reggae to electro; analogue dub to rocksteady funk. His ability to fuse these base elements into a product that is undeniably his own has led to his music being instantly recognisable, what with the warping dub-plates and skanking electroid melodics. Add to this his sharp, patois-tinged, tongue-in-cheek lyrics that address issues from the music industry to urban society, gal-dem to relationships, and you have the proof behind why Roots is deservedly one of the UK's biggest hip-hop stars.
With `Slime & Reason', Roots ability to craft catchy skeletal melodies out of fractured beats and warped sonic's has reached a new level. From the entrancing Dr Dre meets Burial tuneage of `The Show Must Go On' to the analog synth-attack of `It's Me Oh Lord' he injects a danceable aesthetic into already animated soundscapes. The superhero leftfield jazz-hop of `Well Alright' is like The Herbaliser meets a stripped down Cinematic Orchestra at a New Flesh concert, whilst the sidewinding 8-bit melody and out-of-sync bass burble of `Do 4 Self' proves to be an entrancing backing to Roots energetic and on-point flowage. Not content to rest on his laurels, Roots injects a wider range of Caribbean-influences into his sound, influences which are distorted and molded into the playful yet focused Manuva aesthetic. `Again + Again' is playfully ruptured calypso complete with rastafied Elephant Man-esque flows whilst `Buff Nuff' is a dirty piece of pounding bashment designed for mega-bumper shakage with its repetitively engaging choral section and fluttering tribal percussion. On `Let The Spirit', he carves out a wonderfully tranced-out 90's arcade-game synth and burbling bass oozes to create a dark and progressive instrumental for his powerful vocals.
Roots Manuva's previous albums have been (ever-so-slightly) blighted by some lazy word-play as in some tracks his flows have been less than rhythmic and are reduced down to talking pace, thus not triggering off any energy. With `Slime & Reason', his verbage is perfectly aligned to the beatscapes, accelerating and decelerating with the beats to create smooth-flowing energy as well as consistency. This alongside the matured arrangements and (trademark) warm analog production techniques have led to a lavish and challenging album which is sure to delight fans of old and invite newcomers. Although there is no epic stand-out track like `Motion 5000', the release ultimately proves to be an extremely consistent long-player which continually impresses with its exciting variety, meticulously crafted and interesting beatscapes and focused, tongue-in cheek rhyming. (AM)
For fans of: The Herbaliser, New Flesh for Old, Skinnyman