...an ideal soundtrack to a balmy evenings cook-out ...
Jack Smith 2004
Best known as one-half of the Jurassic 5 DJ/production team (alongside Cut Chemist), Nu-Mark cetainly not been resting on his laurels. With a mix album, artist album and this instrumental collection produced with long-time collaborator Pomo all about to drop, this inventive beat juggler is still very much in the game.
Despite the shared credits, this is undeniably Nu-Mark's joint as he takes responsibility for the lion's share of the production. Unlike Cut Chemist's frenetic cut & paste jams with DJ Shadow or Jurassic 5's party-starting rumpus, these 10 instrumentals are a back-to-basics lesson in beat technique. Eschewing fashionable abstraction or commercial R'n'B hybrids, Blend Crafters rarely deviates from immaculately-produced mid-tempo head nodders. Granted, these jams aren't going to set the world alight, but they slow-burn with a quiet confidence.
Loose, live-sounding drums, deftly-worked samples and bright melody are the order of the day. And nowhere is this ebullience more apparent than on "Lola"; a fidgety JBs-style groove replete with chicken scratch guitar and horny horns. Similarly, the catgut banjo and plaintive vocals of "Bad Luck Blues" are tastefully reminiscent of Moby's chilled gumbo. Most remarkable, however, is a cover of John Lennon's "Imagine". Built around loping piano chords similar to the stately refrain of the original, the track narrowly succeeds due to a gloriously dozy muted sax picking out the vocal line.
Its a well-worn cliché to saddle an album with the 'sound of the summer tag', but Blend Crafter's stoned optimism is an ideal soundtrack to a balmy evening's cook out - which is both the best and the worst to be said about it. Engaging, if not essential.