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Pretty Ugly

4.3 out of 5 stars 3 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Audio CD (19 Mar. 2012)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Hyperdub
  • ASIN: B0077LFY74
  • Other Editions: Vinyl  |  MP3 Download
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 528,829 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)
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Product Description

Product Description

DVA is a natural maverick, a one man spaceship, who on 'Pretty Ugly' shows off an uncanny ability to create urban pop and dance that's full of rich musicality and unusual textures and ideas. Like all the most exciting pop and dance music producers through the generations he has a real flair for looking from the outside in and creating his own unique colour filled 3D sound, with a knack of tethering off-key ideas to good songwriting and pop formats. He s a producer that has come through grime and then uk funky but he s always pulled the blueprints out of shape, messing with different time signatures and syncopations, unusual speeds and strange synths, upsetting vocalists and creating music that doesn t easily slot into the format for raves. Hyperdub saw this maverick nature as a blessing, and so he s gone into the studio and done what he needs to make the music he wants. As the presenter of Rinse FM's flagship breakfast show for several years and now the presenter of Hyperdub s Rinse FM show, he's sat right in the middle of London's urban music scene as a trusted and respected conduit. Several of the singers on Pretty Ugly have been selected from favourite songs from his radio show. Natalie Maddix, Muhsinah, A.L., Zaki Ibrahim, Fatima and Cornelia, all entered the studio, leaving their comfort zone at the door, and wrote lyrics with a twist befitting of DVA s music. On the title track, Cornelia drops a lyric about frustration and insomnia. On 'Why You Do?', A.L. sings about being cheated on in a surprising fashion that leaves her unsure how to feel. Fatima dreams of having more space on a new stripped down version of previous Hyperdub single 'Just Vybe', while Zaki Ibrahim sings about a strange, glowing love on 'Fire Fly'. On '33rd degree', Muhsinah launches an emotional coup while Natalie Maddix's 'Eye Know' sings a comforting lullaby as Scratcha creates a zingy synth forcefield around the vocal. Coupled with the strange uk funky inflected house and techno of 'Reach The Sun', 'Polyphonic Dreams' and 'Bare Fuzz', the lush broken beat of 'The Big Five' and the instrumental grime fanfare climax of 'Where I Belong', Scratcha DVA has come up with probably the finest match between album title and music in the history of the universe. 'Pretty Ugly' is what it is - sweet and sour, blaring and lush, rough and smooth. The man is a genius.

BBC Review

Having played a major part in London’s scene-shaping Rinse FM and produced his own unique takes on both grime and UK funky, Leon Smart has now put together his debut album under his DVA alias. Pretty Ugly takes influences from hip hop, soul, funk, dub, techno and pop; but when viewed through DVA’s aural kaleidoscope and dusted in interference, glitches and dirt, these elements take on a different appearance altogether.

The raft of guest vocalists may offer smooth deliveries, but these are then roughened by the underlying rhythms that stagger, stutter and consistently dodge any expected patterns. The conventional beats that deceptively usher in Polyphonic Dreams are followed by a singular set of undulating synth bleeps that build and rise until the track crashes into an analogue, almost ravey, finale. DVA demonstrates a knack for simplicity in his overall ideas but somehow adds layers of complexity when executing those ideas.

And this is where the album lives up to its name. While there may be a gentle, harmonic soul that runs throughout, Smart adds imperfections and injects flaws into any surrounding beauty. It's this mixture of the rough and the smooth that works so well and constantly maintains interest.

These elements are carefully juxtaposed both within tracks like Fire Fly, with its scattered percussion but sweetly struck chorus from Zaki Ibrahim, and throughout the album overall, where, for example, the flowing yet dark-hearted title-track is followed by the driving dub bassline of Bare Fuzz. At its simplest, these contrasts are evident at the start of the Little Dragon-esque Why U Do, where summer birdsong is met by the harsh crackle of vinyl. Recent single Madness, featuring Vikter Duplaix, is a more straightforward affair, though still not without added quirks.

Faux strings and brass bring an album of many highlights and contrasts to a dramatic close. Rich in its emotional scope, Pretty Ugly is the sound of a man with an intricate understanding of the nuances of lightness and darkness, and it makes for a consistently engaging and at times exhilarating listen.

--Ian Roullier

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Customer Reviews

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Audio CD
This is the smoothest-sounding album that DVA's label Hyperdub have on its roster. There's a group of vocalists scattered across the twelve tracks but the mood is consistently soulful and at odds with itself. The instrumentals stagger about queasily, reminding me of the production on Kode9 & the Spaceape's 'Black Sun'.

Honestly this is the type of album I expected Joker to have released instead of his surprisingly lukewarm debut 'The Vision'. If you enjoyed listening to DVA's Rinse FM radio show then I'm sure you'll love this.
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By Colin McCartney TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 31 Mar. 2012
Format: Audio CD
DVA remind me of Bugz in the Attic (whatever happened to them?), Carl Craig's 69 project and (even) Basement Jaxx. Poppy in places, experimental in others, "Pretty Ugly" has a little bit of something for everyone. Good artwork too.

Another worthwhile addition to the Hyperdub catalogue.
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Format: Audio CD
2012's most underrated dj and producer
his fly juice ep is amazing too, weird soul and bright, thick colourful synths with distinctly british rhythms, like if flying lotus was from the uk
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