Remdog: Marabu Series EP
2600 Recordings

South Londoner Remdog (aka Remi/Rough) is as much known as a graffiti artist as he is producer and rapper (for the hip-hop outfit Reptiles) ; in August 2008, for example, he gave a talk on the underground history of UK graffiti at London's Tate Modern as part of the Tate's Street Art exhibition and series. His Marabu Series EP (available in seven-inch and digital download formats) connects the dots between art and music in its use of seven colours for song titles but, aside from the screen-printed artwork by Remdog that adorns the physical release , that's as far as the visual connection goes. For those who like labels, “glitch-hop” comes to mind, as Remdog's cuts invite occasional comparison to the fractured instrumentalism popularized by the likes of Dabrye and Prefuse 73.

The glitch-ridden overture “Anthracite” introduces Remdog's sinuous head-nodding flow, after which “Violet Red” overlays an alternately stuttering and rolling funk pulse with squiggly synthesizer patterns and a brooding theme that oozes an aromatic Boards of Canada-like scent. It's on the third cut, however, that the beats truly kick in, with “Light Turquoise” digging deep into a grimey hip-hop pulse that immediately elevates the material to another level; listen closely and you even might hear the spirit of Dabrye's One/Three hovering close by. “Carmine Red” likewise feeds off of a stripped-down, Dabrye-esque groove in its merging of froggy croaks, dubstep wobble, and ominous vibraphone melodies. Egged on by a distorted, descending motif, sputtering analog synths take the controls for “Antique Pink” while skanky drum machine beats and claps give the track old-school flavour. Five minutes of head-nodding sway in “Medium Yellow” complete the Remdog picture. Though his Marabu Series isn't groundbreaking stuff by any stretch of the imagination, it's nevertheless a credible enough twenty-five-minute set of skewed instrumental hip-hop.

October 2009