UK producer and Gobstopper Records founder Mr. Mitch has worked steadily to reimagine what grime music should sound like in 2014. Taking a decidedly more instrumental approach to a traditionally bass- and garage-indebted genre, Mr. Mitch has since created the influential Boxed nights in various London clubs alongside fellow grime DJs Oil Gang, Logos and Slackk, finally giving a home to a genre that had lost a bit of its lustre. For his debut album Parallel Memories, released on Planet Mu Records, Mr. Mitch goes full experimental, recalling the work of similarly minded artists such as Evian Christ and Shabazz Palaces, albeit in a more muted way.
There's a nice pacing to the album, which starts off very smoothly with more ambient cuts "Afternoon After" and "The Night," picking up steam midway and then simmering down in time for album closer "Hot Air," a fantastic cut that invites you to start the whole experience over again. "Don't Leave," a standout track from his preceding EP release of the same name, finds itself on the LP and instead of feeling like a leftover, integrates into the track list nicely, offering up some production flourishes that evoke Kanye West's "Lost In The World." Much of the material is minimal, such as the Dark0 collaboration "Sweet Boy Code," but doesn't feel out of place. "Bullion" is one of the package's more aggressive cuts, combining an electronic twang, as if someone were unspooling metallic twine, with repeated box spring patterns that abruptly end. It's followed by "Denial," which crafts a beat of disparate glitches around a pitched vocal sample and backing synths that build up before dropping off, revealing a dark backing pattern.
The release raises the question of whether this can still really be considered grime, but that's probably the point: to challenge pre-conceived ideas as to what a grime release should sound like. Parallel Memories is a testament to Mr. Mitch's dedication to the craft, and in a year that saw the release of Arca's Xen and Aphex Twin's Syro garner widespread critical acclaim, it would be a shame to see it get lost in the shuffle. (Planet Mu)