Thursday, 5 July 2012

Cooly G - Playin' Me

For those not immersed in the Brixton garage sound, Merissa Campbell aka Cooly G is a semi-pro footballer and deep house producer signed to Kode 9’s Hyperdub label, home of the likes of Burial and Darkstar. ‘Playin Me’ isn’t going to re-write the rule book like her label mates’ debut releases but it feels like a logical progression from her early soul and dub tinged singles to the tribal post-garage that makes up most of this record.

As a singer, her voice is a warm and pleasant but unspectacular instrument. However she hides this well with crafty song-writing and smoky, complementary production, equally adept at turning her voice to crooned melodies as she is to cut-up percussive moments. Resisting the over-compression and route one delivery of mainstream–pop she delivers languid turns at the mic that match up well to her stripped down tribal beats and come closer to Portishead’s tripped-out jazz soul than the kind of club bangers I was expecting. High points include ‘Good Times’ a sultry funk with liquid percussion and a chorus, ‘We both can try’, that manages to sound both seductive and lonely and the dubby come-on’s of ‘Sunshine’ as well as the instrumental ‘It’s Serious’ with veteran Baltimore house producer, Karizma.

On the downside, the sequencing on ‘Playin Me’ can be rather strange. The super chilled ‘Landscapes’ with its woozy ‘welcome to my world’ refrain feels like a natural opening track yet actually arrives four songs in and the melancholic instrumentals that dominate the final third could pass for a separate record with only the complex, layered ‘Up in my Head’ offering some redemption. Some tracks like ‘Come into My Room’ end rather abruptly and the less said about her awkward, techno, string-assisted cover of Coldplay’s ‘Trouble’ the better so ‘Playin Me’ definitely isn’t perfect but Cooly G shoots and scores more often than not and her this record serves as a welcome development of her sound.


Max Sefton 

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