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TELEMACHUS - IN THE EVENING (YNR RECORDS)


OK, what we have here is one of the greatest albums of the year that will doubtless be sidelined or plain forgot in those end-of-year-polls & Mercury nominations so let's get the facts out the way soon as and start dreaming. Telemachus is a 28 year old London-based hip-hop producer who used to be called Chemo and promoted legendary nights in Brixton called 'Speakers Corner', made the 'Character Assassins' series of one-take breathless mixtapes and has created beats for Kyza, Kashmere, Verb T, Triple Darkness and others. He listens to everything, ask him today and he might tell you that includes Roc Marciano, Cyrus Malachi, The Doors, Ghanaian High Life, David Bowie, Mobb Deep, Django Reinhardt, Barbra Streisand, Martin Hannet, DJ Krush. All in their way hints to the wonder within 'In The Evening' but what's really crucial is that Telemachus listens with a hip-hop head, has that essentially revolutionary impetus behind his hearing that only hip-hop can really give you, that destabilising of auteur reverence, that emphasis on limitless possibilites for sound, the view on theft, the view that destroys the dated hierarchies of taste & chronology in the search for joy.
   Cos this is music that surges into your year and takes over whole seasons. 'In The Evening' will possess your future recall of these months and days and hours like an invasive illness of immersion you don't want to be cured of, music that strings you out, lances your laziness, destroys your endless desire for digital nimbleness and celerity cos it holds you as it spins, and with its own briney eyes spirals you down into it until you can see and feel nothing else. Easynow to be fooled into thinking all you're doing anymore is hearing everything and being moved by nothing but 'In The Evening' kills such moochy nonsense - breaks past barcodes, reaches inside, won't let go from the moment the needle drops into its ocean which is precisely the moment you realise this can't be background, can only be a new old world to explore, one you're so so lucky to have landed on. Dappled pony sunlight opener 'Planet Earth' hits you holds you doesn't move - most divinely rolling psyche-funk opening to an album since 'Ogden's Nut Gone Flake', the f-f-f-f-f-f-lute opening those Boards Of Canada/Ultramarine zones of wide-eyed wonder but with delicious scratches and a thunkafunk heaviosity neither of them managed and that you start to need and crave immediately upon first contact.
    Things you can already spot straight off: Telemachus is interested in imagination and pleasure above all and the whole album is a natural extension of that generosity of musical spirit through to the listener. Although you can hear what producers he might have listened to in the past (Edan, Alchemist, Scientist, RZA, Marley Marl, Bomb Squad, Tubby,  Underdog, Muggs, Krush, Premier, Pete Rock, Scratch, Dilla, Teo Macero etc etc the anti-roll call of hip-hop, jazz & dub dissidents & pioneers) it feels wrong to do so or even name those names because it forestalls the baptismal bliss of simply swimming into what Tele has created here. It's simultaneously the most exquisitely informed yet sublimely INNOCENT sounding deluge of emotion and imagery sound might give you in 2013. And oft-times it has the good grace to simply NOT COMPUTE: 'Tennis Season' has you drawling Baloo-style 'maaaan what a beat' and bejebus is that 5/4 or love 40 or what the fuck is that rotation of sharp snare and almond-bitey kick, hellzapoppin synth bubbles like prime J-Zone, best hawaaian geetar you done heard on a hip-hop joint since Redman's 'Green Island'? You might doubt the evidence of your own ears but there's no doubt you don't want to let go of Telemachus' ankles as he whisks you round his cosmos. Sometimes you're so breathless you wanna gasp - where you taking us man, past the first star to dawn, where are we going?




    Which would seem to hint at a trippiness, the need for pharmaceuticals but I've actually been finding 'In The Evening' goes best with a tinny, a joint, the hissing of summer lawns, the laughter of summer kids, the buzz of waking anthophilia. This is true summer music in the sense of too hot to move so lets stay still and leap lithely through the inner cosmos. Help yourself to bbq and help yourself to a hit but make sure you're building and burning as well and holyfuck it's too hot in here it's too hot out there but in the world of 'In The Evening' every aspect of your reality is suddenly and totally controlled by a benevolent sky and a seething earth and Telemachus' place in his own music becomes something more than a spirit guide, more like a fellow traveller to nowhere and everywhere at once. He's a reminder that being a musician is one of the most/last magical things you can be and I still have no idea how he makes what he does. I just know that 'In The Evening' suits your summer delirium and will offer shade and releif and release from now until the nights shorten, and continue to do so long after that.


   The unique sublime of 2012's 'Sheltering Sky' shatters through you still, genuinely infused with the diseased deranged spirit of Paul Bowles, desert psyche guitar tying you off, a fat rumble of Bedouin beats heating the spoon, Jehst on fire pushing the plunger, sinking a mirage of pure chilled heat within. Atmosphere so thick your lungs burn from it, menace and cinema for the neck up and the waist down and one of the finest singles by any British artist in the past decade.


   Also check out the Eric B heaviness and heartfelt Barry Biggisms from the wonderful Jah Mirakle on 'The Light', the fragile wonder of 'The Boy Who Thought He Could Fly', the ancient-future drone skyshot taken by 'Trivandrum', the Hammer-House-Of-Hip-Hop vibe of 'Scarecrows' and the way 'Technician' somehow manages to be part M.R.James part Prince Paul and yet entirely convincingly Telemachus throughout. 'Father's unsettling Eno-esque stealth is just a cut way above any other ambient/soundscaping tricknology I've heard in years but all my words are only stopping you hearing, only proof of how far this music has your mind slipping. Your mind slips cos Tele never misses a beat, never falsifies a step. Worse cliche to deny the pictures this makes inside you, or to pretend that this music can be contained merely by what it contains. True art lets you create also. Unlike so much of what passes for state-of-the-art right now Tele's music never overly fusses things to a point where you can't be an ACTIVE listener. You don't just bear witness. You don't just receive and respond. You are a living participatory element within this adventure. That can only happen when an artist doesn't give you everything but gives you a glimpse so tantalising you have to dive in headfirst, heartfirst: Tele leaves you to populate the spaces he leaves with your own unique visions and echoes because Tele knows that editing, not indulgence, is what liberates expression for both musician and listener alike. With a mainstream AND an underground that seems to have forgotten conciseness, that both rely on a fundamental mistrust between artist and listener, this is a rare groove indeed. I haven't heard an album so clearly in that heretic strain of definitely English yet universally-reaching hook-laden oddity since the golden age of Disco Inferno, Bark Psychosis, Laika, Brotherhood, early early pre-shit Mo'Wax, Grantsby, the longlost astonishing Trevor Jackson (Underdog) and his Output imprint - signposts if you need em but you don't really, the rejection of the cowardice of filing and categorising is something the album gently insists and allows you to do with glorious ease and freedom. Telemachus is an ancient, modern, unique voice in British music and consider your 2013 bereft if you miss 'In The Evening'. Nothing short of a masterpiece and way more open than a masterpiece has any right to be. Enough of my yakkin. Whaddaya say, let's boogie.

Comments

  1. Thanks. I think this post (& album) may have just reignited my interest in UK hip hop. As the younguns round our way would say, proper lush, like.

    ReplyDelete

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