BBC Review: Various Artists Necessary Mayhem – Future Cuts

February 8, 2012

The future looks bright for all involved in this compelling compilation.

Angus Taylor

With a string of popular rhythm series to its name, London label Necessary Mayhem has made a virtue of bonding classic reggae elements to whomping rave-friendly basslines and modern lyrical subjects. Their third compilation – bearing new and modified flagship tracks from yet-to-be-released projects – doesn’t put a note out of place.

Jungle-DJ-turned-reggae-auteur Curtis Lynch Junior’s productions continue to sculpt his breaks-and-bass background to the lessons of acknowledged musical tutor, Jamaican superproducer Gussie Clark. Just as Clarke transposed 70s studio nous and rootsiness into the digital 80s, so Lynch uses current audio production tools to link the contemporary with Clarke’s time.

Where previous collection Love Directories focussed on serene lovers rock, Future Cuts takes us through roots, dancehall, lovers and then random oddities in strict succession. The opening is moody. Blood Thirsty lets the doleful, scantly-recorded Jah Mali haunt a revival of the rhythm to Ken Boothe’s Black Gold and Green, while Gregory Isaacs is crisply remastered for his scolding, schoolmasterly Clarke production Report (to Me).

Another Mayhem trait is a belief in anyone with talent: young or old, local or foreign, reggae or not, hot or underrated. Thus, premium Jamaican exports Busy Signal and Etana pile in with Swedish Mayhem mainstay Million Stylez and fearsome Francophone lady deejay Netna on a four-way dancehall mix of As Mi Forward. Likewise, Sizzla shares the ‘reggaestep’ fusion of Are You For Real with UK RnB singer Ny.

For the benefit of singles buyers, some previously released fare has been remixed by Lynch – confirming Necessary Mayhem’s ethos of producer-as-co-star. An exception is guest jungle retread of Tippa Irie’s fast-chatting Dancehall Style by Canada’s Marcus Visionary that hypes up the veteran’s verbals – one of three bonus extras for the digital release.

The strength here is that, for all their diversity, every track remains true to a signature sound: a sound with one ear in the past and the other in the present, proudly wearing its influences yet remaining instantly-recognizable on its own terms. The future looks bright for all involved.


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