Thursday, 24 November 2016

Album Review: Jack listened to the new Captain Flatcap Album

The editor gives his take on the new Captain Flatcap LP

Having recently decided to take a step back from actually writing the blog posts, it may strike some of you as odd to see my name in the byline again. There’s a simple explanation.

A few days ago I received a promo copy of the Captain Flatcap album, which was released today on Scour Records. To say that there were some nerves as I downloaded the files would not be overstating things. I’ve been a big fan of the Flatcap sound since I first discovered their remixes a few years ago. I enjoyed their early releases, including collaborations with Dutty Moonshine. Was this full length album going to live up to the early promise, or would it be one of those that leaves one feeling shortchanged? Full-length albums are few and far between in this scene, so when one disappoints it really feels like a kick in the teeth. It can be hard to sustain originality across that many tracks, especially if the act don’t look to push the boundaries of what vintage remix can be.

I’m very pleased to report that Captain Flatcap have sidestepped this pitfall with considerable flair. They’ve managed to weave together such a wide variety of influences, from ska to hip hop by way of folk and dnb, glitch, electro-house, plus a healthy dose of swing, all the while maintaining a style that is recognisably Catflap.

It perhaps should not come as a surprise that they do this with such apparent ease, given that Chris and Tom Rotherham, the brothers who represent 2/3 of the band, are classically trained musicians. The subtlety of the instrumentation at points is remarkable. In particular Chris’s flute is used to great effect on a  number of occasions to provide a lightness, brightness of sound that is rather uplifting.

That said, if their skill is only signalled by the gentle waving of a silk handkerchief, their love of a jolly good knees-up is announced rather more rowdily, with blaring brass and some very silly, squelchy wubs.

There's also a humourous tone to a number of tracks, with spoken samples taken from the likes of Black Books and Monty Python, which  gives an interesting insight into the chap's viewing habits, as well as providing a few genuinely funny drops.

I genuinely find it difficult to pick an objective favourite out of these tracks. I imagine that traditional electro-swing fans are going to feel most at home with tracks like ‘Coconut Affair’ and ‘Are you Me’, which sounds to my ear very much like some of the Jenova Collective’s work.

But for me the tracks that have been on heaviest rotation for me are the two hip-hop tinged tracks, 'Boom Bap Boxing' and 'Squeaky Clean', both very different, but featuring some of my favourite MCs on the scene: Great Scott and Too Many Ts respectively. I really look forward to 'Squeaky Clean' being released as a single: I imagine that the video will be fun.

But then I’m a sucker for hip hop. I can also see 'Sergei’s Journey' being spun by DJs in about three of Boomtown’s districts, so that implies a certain versatility. For straight out dancefloor stormers the appropriately named 'Filth Wizard', 'Alien Jazz', and 'Are you me?' are the go-to tracks.

I wrote on Facebook that I thought this was an example of what vintage remix can be, and I stand by that: While there’s a definable thread that runs through the work, there’s so much variety in this album that I think it should help to shove the scene out of the creative rut that it was in danger of entering. I can see this some tracks appealing not only to the vintage remix community, but to a wider audience of dance music fans, especially the growing community of Americans who have grown bored with 'EDM' and are beginning to explore the weirder corners of the dance music world.

Go out and buy this album now. Seriously. Do it.

Why are you still here?