The Politik is a well-rounded and highly approachable 21st century treasure.
Paul Sullivan 2007-07-25
Multi-instrumentalist/producer Mark de Clive-Lowe and vocalist/songwriter Bêmbè Sêguè will be familiar names to anyone diggin’ on London’s jazz and soul undergrounds. The pair have been working extra hard over the last few years – independently and together to craft fresh and eclectic 21st century variants of black music styles, blending everything from Afrobeat and funk to jazz, soul and hip hop into phuturistic, subtly sideways missives.
With MdCL having played on over 150 records to date ( and having worked with everyone from Lauryn Hill and Jill Scott to Ed Motta and Shirley Bassey), and Sêguè’s collaborative experience including stints with Pharaoh Sanders and 4Hero, Silhouette Brown and Ty, the duo are comfortable with a wide array of styles. The stuttering bass-heavy opening skit “The Essence” throws open the doors on a world of sound that’s deep, varied and forward-thinking: fresh combinations and defiant twists on classic grooves.
“Moonlight” bounces in with a rumbling hip hop beat and a deft exchange between Cali MC Blu and Sêguè. If that tune exposes the duo’s love of Prince, wait ‘til you hear “Sweet,” which incurs a massive debt to the pint-sized pop don, combining a ’80s robofunk riddim and squiggling synths with some street flava, courtesy of Ohio rapper replife. Tunes like “Black Sun,” “Mistaken,” “Xtra Sensory” and “How Did They Know” metaphorically dim the lights, favouring a slow-soul ambience that’s all warm, swirling synths, languorous drums and ultra-sultry performances from Sêguè. Booty-shaking material is inevitable with any project involving these two, and comes in the shape of “Money (Don’t Let It Catch Ya),” – which says all you need to know about the artistic temperament of the producers – the Afro-tastic “Turn The Light” and the fast-paced jazz-out “Feel It,” which sees Sêguè swap verses with lauded Philly rapper Bahamadia.
With its angular yet urbane grooves, warm, robust aura and mish-mash of classic and new styles, The Politik is a well-rounded and highly approachable 21st century treasure.