The sails on another bout of album length production have turned full circle for West coast indy hip-hop duo Windmills who hove back into view with second LP Broken Record. Those who caught their first LP will know they’re dealing with the full production might of hip-hop fiend and multi-instrumentalist Rex Rey (veteran of numerous solo projects and collaborations) and the verbal proficiency of emcee compadre (and DJ) Frameworks.
Debut As Above, So Below, revealed a well-oiled machine that turned on complex breaks, complex rhymes and melodies that drew from a long history of West Coast psychedelia. Broken Record on the other hand is a well-oiled machine that turns on complex breaks and complex rhymes with a dark folksy feel wherein the psychedelia seems largely to have been replaced by bleak synth soundscapes. And Frameworks isn’t feeling like a barrel of laughs either. In fact, both his lyrics and Rey’s music have gone a little bit emo. Blimey.
The title track and instro opener is actually a very Shadow/ RJD2-esque affair harking back to Rey’s solo work which begins with a vocal sample and subsequently explodes into a heavily syncopated break layered with moody pianos and synth keys. This gives way to the uptempo-but-pensive Regular Handshake featuring the staccato raps of Frameworks that sets the tone for much of the album. Vocally what follows is preoccupied with soul-searching, philosophical musings while the music veers between the melancholy and the haunting. It all comes together best on menacing LP centrepiece The Beach When It Rains which also features a sung hook from Rex Rey.
On the basis of this, I’d say Windmills’ spiritual home is Rhymesayers. In fact, if I was the ‘Mills manager I’d be sending out promo copies of this to the label on a daily basis until they cleared out some of their dead wood and signed these two.
(Out 16 December – self-released)