Kelpe I Felt Fuzzy
Of all the artists to grace the roster of the still relatively young Svetlana imprint, […]
Of all the artists to grace the roster of the still relatively young Svetlana imprint, Kelpe is the only one that could rightfully be considered a veteran. Responsible for a number of impressive releases in the mid-to-late aughts (most notably the Cambio Wechsel LP), he has fared through the ever-changing production landscape with his musical personality always intact—sculpting his characteristically funky style just enough to make sense alongside newer contemporaries, but never bending too far. I Felt Fuzzy continues in this tradition, an effort that’s bound to please his long-time listeners while serving as a solid introduction for anyone coming across the Londoner’s name for the first time.
The six-track EP—consisting of three originals and three remixes—opens with its strongest selections, “I Felt Fuzzy” and “Cola Mine.” Both offer jazzy bouts of hip-hop trickery that groove with sunken rhythms while layers of tuned samples and space-age synths move in constant rotation. The former is a looser affair, and one that sounds like FlyLo’s “Do the Astral Plane,” only if it had appeared on 1983 instead of Cosmogramma. “Cola Mine” exists along the grid a bit more than the title track, as its syncopated samples exhibit a certain exactness and its drum patterns are decidedly focused on the downbeat. Both songs are held together in large part by their low-end elements, namely a pair of G-funk inspired synth basslines that hesitantly glide into place and serve as the guide posts to Kelpe’s adventurous synth musings, which take the form of videogame-esque arpeggios, trickling melodic lines, and what could even be some hand-played keyboard improvisation.
BNJMN‘s and Cupp Cave‘s reworks highlight the EP’s second half. “Cola Mine” gets pulled into watery house territory, and, like most of BNJMN’s productions, the full scope of this new version takes a few spins to wrap your head around. At first glance, the remix sounds like a simple rearranging of the track’s original elements, piled together with little regard for the “big picture.” But a concentrated listen reveals the full scope of the remix, which finds a way to continue adding layers that are seemingly at odds with each other—rolling snares, off-kilter hats, and an incalculable number of looping chords—into a cohesive combination. Belgian producer Cupp Cave approaches the title track at an entirely different angle, throwing globs of hissy tones atop “A Fuzzy Feeling,” gently steering it into more abstract territory. Cupp Cave also chooses to flip the doo-wop vocal sample of the original almost backwards. Where Kelpe’s take on the harmonized vocals floats along like something you’d want to snap along to, Cupp Cave pushes the “ooohs” down, only allowing them to come up for air with a slightly unpredictable pattern.
For someone whose production history predates the rise of, and arguably had a bit of influence on, the “beat music” world, Kelpe’s style still seems fresh. The influence of the Brainfeeder camp and its equals spread around the globe is certainly present, but I Felt Fuzzy noticeably leans back from over-compression and obtrusively implemented side-chains, resulting in a record that is less suited for hooded head-nodding than it is train rides and afternoon smoke sessions.