Title: Temple Of Supremacy
Artist: Mista 93
Release Date: July, 2013
License: CC BY-NC-ND
Label: Dusted Wax Kingdom
When I started listening to this release, I started to question something: what separates down-tempo and chill release from one another? Seriously most of them use trip-hop style elements, broken beats, and samples from any number of sources (jazz, blues, spoken word recordings, etc.). So, what is it that makes one release in this genre good, while another bad or even not as good?
I had initially hoped that I would find a quick answer in ‘Temple Of Supremacy’. But even after listening multiple times to this release, I still found myself without an answer. It wasn’t until I returned to ‘Temple of Supremacy’ after having to set it aside (for too long) to work on some other reviews and projects that I started to get some insight.
It seems to me that there are several elements to a good down-tempo / chill release, some of which I have talked about before, and some that I haven’t.
The first is the ability of the artist to slice, edit and layer samples in such a way as to make them mostly unrecognizable. Of course, unless the artist wants us to know where a sample comes from, as in the case of the Bugs Bunny sample used on Muddy Waters.
The ability to take things and transform them to fit a new musical vocabulary allows the listener to focus on what the artist is saying, more than what sources he used for his samples. By using his or her own selection of rhythms and phrasing, we are listening to what the artist has to say is his (or her) impression of the world around him, and how this music now fits into this world.
In order to do this, the artist also employs several tools in assembling the samples and rhythm tracks. Sometimes the effects of these tools are humorous, like the screaming voice mixed in with the saxophone line on Acid Boom Bop. Sometimes they are used to be inspiring, like the spoken words at the beginning of Let’s Fight. And there are many other application(s) of these tools.
Of course, I can wax poetic about all the tools, techniques, production styles, etc. that an artist uses. But those are just that: tools. Without something to use them on, it all goes to waste. So, that’s another important aspect: each of these artists has to find an appropriate canvas to employ their tools on: they have to find something that they need to create. And each of them do, but it is unlikely many of us will ever see that canvass. That’s typically a more private piece of the puzzle for an artist.
But, there is one more element that I started to realize makes a good release, and it’s something that the artist cannot control: the audience. The artist is dependent on his audience, and what they bring to the work when listening to it to decide whether the release is good or not. And that, largely, will depend on how carefully the audience members listen to the work, and take in the details of all the tools the artist employed, and what the end results of his process are.
But, maybe that is being presumptuous of me, being an audience member. Of course, there are probably lots of people in the audience that are happy with find something that they like the sound and rhythm of, and likely something that moves them in some way. And, of course, let’s not forget the large portion of the audience that likes to move physically with a work (IOW: dance).
And, maybe that’s all that matters in the end: can the audience relate to the music on some level without going through all the analysis, or bring a large set of knowledge to the work.
No matter what the case is, Mista 93 succeeds on many levels. This release makes me want to move, and want to listen to it. It makes me think about all the elements that he’s put into each track, and what tools he’s employed to achieve the end result.
And that is what makes ‘Temple of Supremacy’ worthy of a long listen. All of the little details and all the grooving that it inspires. Definitely a good addition to the down-tempo collection of the CerebralRift.