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Album Review
Kings And Them

Kings And Them
by Evian Christ

Tri-Angle Records

Review Date
22nd February 2012
Reviewed by
Martyn Pepperell

There is something resembling a fine arts framework to Tri-Angle Records signee Evian Christ's free mixtape Kings And Them. Working with a palette which includes 135-140 BPM 808 drum patterns, richly textured synthesiser tones and pitch bent hip-hop and RnB vocal snippets (or full acapella phrases), through Kings And Them, Evian Christ realises a cohesive, vibrant soundworld.

Dealing in sonics that glisten, throb and chirp, his songs affect a spacey, orbital environment. Inside this expansive, reverberating landscape pop hip-hop signifiers (including vocal samples from Young Money rapper Tyga and big haired Mexican-American chart topper Baby Bash) are screwed down into syrupy states, adding palpable menace to Evian Christ's chrome plated pads and crunk/miami bass/Chicago footwork/UK funky referencing beat work. Alternating between using his vocal samples in stuttering repetitive patterns (which recall not only footwork, but the looped tape phrasing of Steve Reich), and letting processed acapellas run for whole verses/choruses, Evian Christ works in similar contrast across the synthesiser and drum programming side of his work. Effectively, when you're dealing a small set of elements, you need to be more creative in how you generate variation within your journey, and Kings And Them is a great example of engaging dynamic contrast within narrative.

Kicking off with the understated stargazing pads, subtle drum hits and descending vocal stabs of 'Drip', Evian Christ uses tightly wound southern snare rolls to inject the proceedings with energy, generally following these jumps with bursts of ascending melody and voice snippets. Continuing this theme on 'MYD', where the pads resemble gusts of solar wind, he captures a mood Drake producer Noah "40" Shebib would be happy to accomplish, providing an early mixtape highlight. Maintaining the moodiness, track three 'Go Girl' takes the atmosphere into a damp ventilation shaft zone, before giving way to a steady bass kick pulse, eerie tones and a processed reimagining of the acapella from Baby Bash and E-40's 2010 single of the same name.

Following 'Go Girl' 4/4 kick/crash stabs kick off 'Fuck It None Of Ya'll Rap', which relies on equally haunted ambience, straight rhythm and more chopped and screwed vocal snippets taken from 'Snapbacks Back' by Tyga. Driving repetition into a trance inducing level, at the two minutes and forty eight seconds mark we are rewarded with a return to hard 4/4 drum stabs and more extended vocal braggery, "Fuck it none of ya'll don't rap, I could pull a bitch just turning my back." From here, the energy level drops down for the wobbling synths and tasteful drum flicks of 'Horses In Motor' which given appropriate tension, winds into a full UK funky style shuffling snare workout, crowned by unrecognisable, kaleidoscopically manipulated female diva vocals; another mixtape highlight.

As it happens, the Tyga vocal samples on 'Fuck It None Of Ya'll Rap' are a pre-emptive strike, one perhaps designed to prepare the ear for the emergence of extended rap segments from 'Snapback Back' on Evian's Christ's tune of the same name. Slowing Tyga down to demonic levels, his voice collides with a minimal drum beats and ethereal pads, a suitable subversion of the song's commercial touchstones. 'Thrown Like Jacks' and 'Fridge, Crank, Gun' round out proceedings, working a similar vein to 'Drip' and 'MYD', but with boosted energy levels.

Most tellingly, Kings And Them's half-hour running time doesn't feel even one iota mean spirited. Originally available as a low-res YouTube stream, you can now download it in comparatively glorious 320 kbps resolution from Tri-Angle Record's website. While the online clips released late last year triggered excitement, these high-res files completely seal the deal. A truly exciting new talent has arrived.


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