Here it is then, the new LP from the Mind The Wax stable – Billa Qause’s Somehow Someway – which you could be forgiven thinking was something unearthed from the late nineties. I’m pretty sure when Bristol replaced Seattle as the city on which the music press’s attention was fixated in the mid-nineties that no-one was expecting a largely instrumental, slowed-down ambient form of hip-hop to attain the longevity that it has done. Arguably it isn’t strictly the Bristol version of that sound which achieved said longevity so much as the dustier more turntablist variety originally peddled by the Mo Wax label which drew its artist roster from as far afield as DJ Shadow in California and DJ Krush in Tokyo. Nevertheless – it’s this iteration of downtempo breakbeat music which continues to be championed at such labels as Mind The Wax with Somehow Someway‘s homage to it a case in point.
The album is actually Qause’s sixth solo long player and like Krush and Shadow before him the debt owed to 90s hip-hop is clear – even if twenty years after the event in this case. Qause has sampled both jazz and soul, made his heavyweight drum beats on an MPC-created and is far from averse to a judicious bit of scratching. What characterises this LP particularly is the the heavy use of electronic ambient sounds (which do provide some crossover with the ‘Bristol’ sound) and the frequent use of 90s rap hook samples kept low in the mix for that ambient feel – OPP for example on True Thoughts, Keith Murray on All About Practice and Jeru Tha Damaja on Playin’ Yourself, among others. Also appearing on the album are guests Krus and Kill Emil, the former of whom lends his talents to Light My World, and the latter to All about Practice and Beats and Pieces. Highlights include the double bass-powered Half Notes which is about as Krush as you can get without actually being Krush, the piano-led head-nod of All About Practice with it’s glitch-hop-style drumfills and the tone-setting opener Light My World.
(Out now on Mind The Wax)