Tag Archives: Elemental


ELEMENTAL & MR FRISBEE: The Good Dad ClubGiven that hip-hop is now in its forties and has had numerous kids along the way (including older slightly emo daughter, trip-hop, and youngest, trap, the, er, unplanned accident) when could be more appropriate for the genre to celebrate fatherhood? The answer is never – and no pair are more qualified to do the celebrating than Professor Elemental (on this styled simply as ‘Elemental’)

TOM BOMBADEAL: Further Into The Woods – 2009 – Album review

Rating: ★★★★½

Before there was Dizraeli, there was…Tom Bombadeal. Is it a coincidence that both artists are connected to the hip-hop scene in Brighton or evidence that there really are ley lines radiating through the English landscape which plug into a major socket round those parts and are now fuelling a burgeoning folk hop massive? Whichever it is, let this LP serve as a warning of what comes of having a toke on a summer’s day in the vicinity of the Long Man Of Wilmington or, as the missus put it, “this is weird music – sounds like it’s from that Wicker Man film.” Inevitably, given that Brighton and folk music are involved, ‘folk-punk’ bores the Levellers make an appearance (well, their fiddle player Steven Boakes does) though (despite expectations) this doesn’t spoil the LP. Neither does the fact that Bombadeal (a.k.a. Tom Caruana aided and abetted by a motley but equally talented crew including Dizraeli and Elemental) raids wholesale the more tripped-out moments from Tolkien’s epic Lord Of The Rings and specifically the character Tom Bombadil – a fat, jolly sort given to talking utter bollocks in rhyme which – as coincidence (again!) would have it – makes him perfect rapper material. In any case, despite all the ‘green man’ antics, the fol-de-rol-ery of this album has its tongue stuffed firmly into its apple-rosy cheek.
What could be irritating is the fact that with thirty five tracks in just over fifty minutes nothing ever seems to last for quite as long as you want it to – a fact recognised on the antsy two minutes of Family Name, “It’s Tom Bomba along yonder/ Some wonder why ain’t the songs longer.” It isn’t a question that seems to get an answer though there are rumours of a ‘proper’ Tom Bombadeal LP to come where this liberty cap-fuelled ADHD might be cured – don’t sleep on that one. Further Into The Woods is basically an agreeable sonic meander through a very English beatscape that (perhaps because of the shortness of tracks and the amiable ambience) you might initially put on as background music though sooner or later you’ll find it creeping it’s way into your forebrain. Take What Is It About The Night for example – a gorgeous acoustic ballad sung by Sadie Jemmett – all of a minute and twelve seconds long, or Growing Up (one minute fifty) where Caruana evinces his knack for a fat beat. Despite the production ADHD however, this is plum full of hooks and beats and as well as drawing heavily from folk and hip-hop there are flashes of ska (Jamboree/ Moon & Sun) and even (at the end of Night Vision) Zeppelinesque rock. It sounded like it was a lot of fun to make. Did I mention that this is a concept album too – probably not or you might have stopped reading earlier but apparently the idea is that Bombadeal’s rural idyll is under attack from crystal miners or something.

To summarise then: Further Into The Woods is an eccentric folk/ hip-hop hybrid concept album, featuring a member of The Levellers (alright – only on one track), that draws creative inspiration from a Tolkien character, where songs rarely reach two minutes in length (and many barely exceed one) with additional linking narrative by what sounds like a combination of Willie Rushton and a pissed up Adge Cutler…I’ll be the first to admit that that looks really bad on paper. It’s so ridiculous you ought to be compelled to give it a shot though and were you to do so you’d find it utterly bizarre in a strange way that is as likely to appeal to beat heads as hippies and children as well as adults and, as such, I am at a loss to describe it as anything other than truly Tolkienesque…Now go on and get your ass down them woods.

Listen to Tom Bombadeal – Further Into The Woods

Tom Bombadeal – Myspace

ELEMENTAL & TOM CARUANA: Rebel Without Applause – 2009 – Album review

Rating: ★★★★★

If there are two obstacles that white boys in hip-hop who haven’t had an especially hard life must surmount it’s that they are white boys in hip-hop who haven’t had an especially hard life. Consequently, if they are to make any credible impact in hip-hop they’d better be both witty and good. As luck would have it, Elemental and Tom Caruana are very witty and very good and I have no hesitation whatsoever in pronouncing Rebel Without Applause flames.
Stylistically, it gives a nod to De La, or perhaps more accurately The Pharcyde (rather than the P.E. you might be expecting from the title), in it’s ‘fonk’iness, sample-packed production and the way it’s dotted with skits that are actually funny – a quality of humour that, indeed, pervades the whole album. At the same time there’s a ‘knowing’-ness that brings this bang up to date and the humour is unmistakeably British. Cup Of Brown Joy is a hilarious illustration of exactly what I’m talking about. When I first heard it I thought Edan had teamed up with Noel Coward. Consider for a minute that only a UK hip hop crew would ever make a track about tea and then piss yourself as Elemental delivers lines like, “Using a teapot and mug of fine china/ Been hooked up to IV for constant supplies/ I know a drip for my urges might verge on perverted/ But for earthy brown tea, I’m certain it’s worth it.” A stand-out moment of psychedelic neo-Victorian rap genius. Fuck me – there’s a soundbite! But while this is perhaps the most overtly comedic track on the album, don’t even think about mistaking the pair as some sort of comedy-rap novelty act – the beats and cuts on offer are top-notch and the rhyming superb. The track that immediately precedes it, What’s/ Where’s The Action rests on a dusty funk break and makes use of an early Jurassic 5 soundbite, showing Caruana’s knack for dancefloor bump. Elsewhere, this dynamic duo get a heavyweight seal of approval in the form of the presence of Count Bass D on Pay Me A Visit. When I saw he was featured I was expecting some sort of ten second phoned-in couplet but, no, the man is very much in effect over large swathes of a beat that Doom would have been glad to have on his latest LP. Used To Say’s chilled vibe demonstrates Caruana’s ear for a fine sampled vocal hook which in this case sounds like it was plundered from sixties psychedelia. Elsewhere, Town Called Nowhere is an acknowledgment of the Elemental’s small town origins, referencing rural drug use, poverty and crime, Livin’ In The 90s gently takes the piss out of 90s hip-hop while downbeat gem 0800 Sickie provides textbook guidance for bunking off work.
Rebel Without Applause is a rarity in these latter days where the facility to download individual tracks is seeing off the dominance of the album as the punter no longer needs to tolerate filler or indeed anything that fails to cut the mustard properly. This is a hip hop album that you’ll still be listening to as an album long after other LPs have been reduced to a couple of tracks on an iTunes playlist. Procure yourself a copy without delay!
Out now on Tea Sea Records

Listen to Elemental & Tom Caruana – Rebel Without A Pause

Tom Caruana – Myspace

Elemental – Myspace

Tea Sea Records