Friday, 7 October 2011

Roots Manuva - 4everevolution - Album Review [7th October 2011]

[2011.10.07] Tom Hollingworth.

Here He Goes Again!

Fearing the outside world in September 2008, refusing it even for necessary food-stuffs, it is a testament to the love in Roots "Rodney Smith" Manuva's already existing cannon that I made an awkward journey into town to exchange stumbled words with a cashier for his latest release, Slime & Reason. With that album, his music brought me certain inspiration to conquer a cowardice. Now, with his fifth studio record, 4everevolution, a long three years on, he has given me an anticipation for new output I have not felt in a long time.

This album certainly intends to give a feast following the fast, throwing an hour and five minutes (including the two bonus tracks) of audio weight to our ears. Not only is the pitch long, but the dynamics throughout are mostly fuller too: sometimes demonstrated in reckless jamming such as in The Throes Of It, or more carefully planned lushness supporting the soul of Wha' Mek?

Certainly, if it goes that Slime & Reason gave sonic space for the head to wander around, this certainly aims to lure your feet along for the ride too. Tracks like Watch Me Dance (another beat courtesy of Toddla T and his infectious synths) and the ridiculous disco of Beyond This World particularly serve to party. Get The Get finds Mr Manuva rolling his tongue over phat dub earth, whilst collaborator Rokhsan's angelic contribution finds its wings removed like a jacket through kinetic sleaze. The dramatic irony is palpable! At the further end of the album, The Path has me skanking in my seat before finding my eyes glazed as Elan Tamara (another Big Dada artist) emerges powerfully in the chorus, singing this sonic MDMA to the heavens.

This album snakes a more consistent serious demeanor than previous records with no out and out chuckling tracks like Buff Nuff (Slime & Reason, 2008), or relentless satirical shunning as demonstrated in Too Cold (Awfully Deep, 2005). However Mr Manuva's wide spectrum of vocal colours, as wide as subtle faux-aristocratic inflections to rhythmic vowel slurring, keeps his articulation of 'the struggle' always far from the indulgent and monotonous.

My theory that bonus tracks should be kept distinctly separate of an album has new evidence constantly supporting it. Many times the pace of a record has been spoiled. Please, though, I am grateful such content comes for my pounds! And in fairness a good ten seconds are left deliberately at the end of Banana Skank here, but more distinction would allow the primary content to be reflected upon properly first before investigation additional material. Unlike the album content, these bonus tracks seem to show an appreciation for the transitory, a joy in the jam of music and lyrics for themselves.

In the short while I have had with this record, the content has become clearer and the sounds more relatable. As the songs themselves often display overcoming of new challenges/ new animals, with a strong grip on the self and understanding, this very human quality penetrates steadily and surely to the listener. What dances dangerously in the shadows with peripheral vision, shows itself true and honest as eyes are opened. You might prefer to walk amongst different aesthetics, but you would be naive to dismiss what rich culture this music is transmitting. I am truly thankful for this latest lesson in joy.

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