Glen Porter: Falling Down
Project Mooncircle

Huntington Beach, California native Ryan Stephenson (aka Glen Porter) follows up the dusted instrumental hip-hop opus Something Glue Inner Current had the good sense to issue a few years back with a new full-length digital release called Falling Down, this time on Project Mooncircle. Not a whole lot has changed since the last outing but you'll hear no kvetching from this corner; another album helping of vintage Glen Porter-styled instrumental hip-hop goes down just fine in this neck o' the woods.

Porter once again anchors his melancholic tracks with heavily swinging hip-hop-inflected rhythms and then builds them up with Old West acoustic guitars, electrics that are by turn razor-sharp and twanging, and an occasional voice sample. Though the tracks were built up layer by layer, Porter played all the instruments live, which helps explain why the music breathes so naturally and oozes such punch. The electric guitar playing is tasty, but the drumming demands comment even more: Porter's drum sound is as heavy as an anvil and as hard-hitting as a gunshot to the temple.

Most of the album's pieces are in the three-minute range yet still pack a heady number of ideas into their economical running times. Soulful and hypnotic, the downtempo hip-hop interlude “Last Call,” for example, gets more done in a minute-and-a-half than some tracks manage in five, while “Ave.” overlays a laid-back, downtempo pulse with twanging electric guitar playing and a swooning female vocal in three snappy minutes (at five minutes, the seriously dusted “Suffer” is a veritable epic in this context). Representative of the album's sound, “5AM”conjoins piano and guitars to a massively swinging hip-hop groove and spoken word samples of an angst-ridden woman (“Life just doesn't mean a whole lot to me…It's just tearing me up inside, and I just want to die”). “Days2Come” is initiated by a bulldozing, boombastic beat pattern that Porter morphs into a more restrained funk pulse before rolling out the heavy artillery a second time. Falling Down moves closest to traditional hip-hop territory when the head-nodder “Self Destruction” brings an (unnamed) MC's versifying into the fold, while “Yours” closes the album with a sneaky snippet of (what sounds like) Stevie Nick's wail finding a spot amidst the slinky beat thrust.

Thirteen banging cuts and not a weak one in the bunch. If there were any justice in this world, Porter's music would be roaring out of hipsters' boom-boxes everywhere. (Note: for completists, there's also a Falling Down seven-inch single which contains “5AM” and a remix of the album cut “Need Itself” called—what else?—“Need Itself pt.2” that even manages to add a bit of electro-funk to its blaze).

October 2009