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Album Review
What We Used To Know

What We Used To Know
by Christoph El' Truento


Review Date
5th March 2013
Reviewed by
Nicholas Walsh

Though his name may not be familiar to many outside the close knit Auckland hip-hop community, Christoph El' Truento’s production will be, contributing to acclaimed releases by the likes of @Peace and Home Brew.

What We Used To Know marks the Auckland producer’s first full length offering after a slew of releases through Japanese label Wonderful Noise. Opening with a gentle piano motif, the album shuffles its way through an impressive sonic pallete, transitioning from track to track with barely a pause. The overall mood of the record is meditative and introspective taking its cues as much from the likes of Flying Lotus as it does jazz greats Alice Coltrane or Sun Ra. This is worlds away from the slick, ‘golden era’ inspired hip- hop the young producer has cut his teeth on and takes a decidedly experimental approach to composition. What it does share with his previous offerings is a fluidity that few producers manage to achieve.

Indeed the album’s first half works like a suite as one track morphs into the next making for a truly emersive listen. ‘Autumn’ provides a breather, winding down to a melancholic horn line over percussive flourishes before the pace quickens. It’s a testament to El' Truento’s skill that it’s often near impossible to differentiate between what’s being sampled and what’s being played. The tracks have a shape shifting quality as woozy synth lines, samples and percussion intertwine playfully.

While many of his contemporaries move towards a more electronic minimal approach to beat making, El Truento’s work draws from the organic. 'What We Used To Know' incorporates field recordings and live instrumentation (cohorts Isaac Aesili and Julian Dyne contribute horns and drums to the album) with expertly crafted beats that showcase a world class production mind. The latter half of the album takes the marriage between jazz and beat music to its conclusion. ‘Galaxy’ in particular stands out for its driving rhythm section, landing itself in something not far away from Mars Volta territory.

While comparisons to imprints like Brainfeeder and Leaving Records serve as good touch stones, the depth of emotion and sonic wizardry on display place El Truento firmly in the position of peer and not imitator. The fact that despite its 2013 release, the music was completed in 2011 leaves you with the distinct feeling that El Truento is on the cusp of a genre that changes as quickly as the wind. One can only hope that it won’t take two years to hear what this talent is working on now.


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