Sunday, 12 August 2012
Review: Cool Breeze – Assimilation
Cool Breeze’s album Assimilation is exactly the kind of hip-hop I love, although perhaps “hip-hop” is the wrong word. Acid jazz? Breakbeat funk? Sample collage? Beat making? Whatever. Assimilation may have been released on relatively unknown label Dorado back in 1995, but it wouldn’t have sounded out of place on Ninja Tunes and their roster of delectably funky ‘90s jazzy hip-hop acts like DJ Food, The Herbaliser and Coldcut. If that doesn’t immediately give you a picture of how this album sounds then you need to brush up on your music history, maaaan.
Fundamentally, there’s not a whole lot to separate Assimilation from the ranks of similar British albums that were released between Paul’s Boutique and Endtroducing, but Cool Breeze is an assuredly talented sampler and beatmaker. His basslines are pleasingly warm and dubby, his tracks laced with cool soul and B-boy swagger, and his humour is sly without being irritating. The album also contains two brilliant standouts. First up is the achingly beautiful Can’t Deal With This, a languid summer groove where Rhodes stabs intertwine perfectly with guitar lacks and a heart-melting vocal performance from Imaani, who apparently went on to be a runner up at Eurovision. Then there’s the Kid Loops remix of Tik Tok (Come On), which emphasises the spacey dub atmospherics of the outrageously funky original while allowing the low-slung dub bassline to continue making love to one of the most infectious jazz flute samples ever uncovered.
The supporting cast of tracks are very strong, including (importantly) the opener and closer, and the only weak spot is the rather bizarre Charlie Don’t Surf, with a somewhat cheesy anti-war stoner vocal. Assimilation may not be remarkably different, but it’s a cut above the crowd in its genre, far better than many of the critically heralded efforts by contemporaries such as Mr Scruff or DJ Vadim, and deserves an honorary status as a forgotten classic.
Genre: Downtempo jazz-dub-ninja-breaks-hop.
Stupid Arbitrary Rating: 9/10