Call it nu-jazz. Call it nu-soul. Call it Phusion. Regardless, DJ and New Sector Movements mainman IG Culture’s second NSM album Turn It Up, is a decidedly mixed affair. But if its genre-mapping you’re looking for, then you may as well throw-in smidgens of contemporary Jamaican dancehall, refractions of Tech-House, and the shards of broken beats that IG Culture has used since forming Dodge City Productions back in the mid ’90s.
Turn It Up is indeed, as we reviewers like to say, eclectic, but troof to tell, it’s primarily electric. Yup, for the most part, Turn It Up may focus on letting soul music’s traditional instrument – the voice – breathe and flex, but make no mistake, this is a producer’s album. The b-lines brook no fussy organic wobbling. The beats are compressed and clean, the synth strings tidy and economic.
It ain’t all smoothness however, and that’s where Turn It Up becomes forced and stretched. Heat It Up wants to get sweaty, low-down and dirrty, but the ultimate effect is juvenile-raunch when propped up against the adult doses of consciousness sweet-soul that characterises much of this set. Big It Up’s dancehall call to self-belief may be genuine, but it sounds as though it belongs to another project entirely. IG Culture’s West London heritage may be a veritable melting pot, but this album works best when the contemplative sensibility is allowed to be continuous.
Naturally, there’s more than enough room for inspired experimentation. Digital Age is a funny, freaky piece of phuture phetishism with more than a nod in the direction of The Artist Who Is Now A Jehovah’s Witness. Tha Fame is a cheeky-chappy meditation on the theme of poor-old-successful-me, that works, while the announcer-system intro to Trying Times presage the album’s only multi-part male harmonies. Indeed, much of the record echoes Maurice Fulton‘s Ladyvipb project, looking to define a Techno that is more narrative than abstract.
Best, for those looking for choice cuts, are Soon Come and Love, Speed, Movement. Soon Come’s simple repeated phrases negotiate colour and space amongst the most pliable of the Big IG’s beats. Love, Speed, Movement evokes perfectly a mind-state that every frazzled clubber can identify with. That of flagging down an unlicensed minicab, folding-up in the back seat while said faux-cabbie has tuned in to the most tasteful of late-nite pirate radio stations. Of course, musicOMH does not recommend the hailing of such chancers, particularly as your illegal driver won’t have a clue where you live. But if there’s a better line to hear (or so beautifully sung) at 4 in the morning than, “You tap into my mind / With all your frequencies”, then your humble reviewer has yet to hear it.
Turn It Up is no smoove ride from start to finish. At times, it may jitter, it may provoke. Once or twice, it may give cause for you to pre-program the running order (unless you’re still stuck with your 1989 midi-system). But by turns, Turn It Up sweetens, amuses, and innovates.