Smith & Mighty Big World Small World

Having had a hand in producing early material for Massive Attack and the Fresh Four — a group whose line-up included future Reprazent member Krust and peripheral figure Tricky — Rob Smith & Ray Mighty’s role as peers and precursors of their fellow Bristolians cannot be discounted. Their own early releases revealed a penchant for radically versioning Bacharach compositions  “Walk On By” and “Anyone Who Had A Heart” were recast with plaintive vocals, old-school breaks and lurching dub rhythms. “They had a little eight-track studio and they were monitoring through some old mashed up speakers,” says Peter D., who has now officially joined the duo, having worked with them since 1987. “ It was a very lo-fi budget set-up, and it added to some of the ingredients that they produced. It was very raw, very basic.” Offshoot projects More Rockers and Jaz Klash, as well as Smith & Mighty’s own soon to be re-released Bass Is Maternal album made forays into drum & bass, retaining this grassroots ethic and now the group’s sound has arrived at the refined Big World Small World. Soul, house and hip-hop influences intertwine to form the atmospheric melodies rising above the foundation of reverberating dub bass lines. Former Talkin’ Loud signee Tammy Payne shines, coaxing the gorgeous “Move You Run,” while Rudy Lee’s strident “No Justice” and the rap commentary of Kelz on “Seeds” manifest the album’s underlying conscious values that have been constant in the group’s music. “We’re just carrying on what we do,” says Peter D. “We’ve just been plodding along doing music how we want to do it, without having the pressure of being in London and having to keep up with the latest trends.” (Studio !K7)