2tall – The Softer Diagram
Former UK DMC DJ Champ and producer extraordinaire, 2tall, is back for 2008 with his second solo LP The Softer Diagram, out now on the Content label. Available as of last month on vinyl, The Softer Diagram is now officially out to buy on mp3 download. And download you should, cos this one’s a bit special – 37 minutes containing some of the tightest and most interesting productions I have heard in a while. 2tall created something a bit wicked last year with the Beautiful Mindz LP featuring Dudley Perkins and Georgia Anne Muldrow, but now I know for sure that this man is no fluke.
01. A Word
02. Grazing On Empty
03. The Most High (featuring Kashmere)
04. Raise Ya Head
05. Distant Shadows
06. Trains (featuring E Saint)
08. For Simon Cowell
09. Harbour Lights
10. Garden Child
11. Winter Theme
12. Garden Child (Dday One Remix)
The Softer Diagram is soulful like Eric Lau, tight like Dilla and holds a groove like Madlib or Flying Lotus – but as with most producers on top of their game, 2tall is distinctive in his sound and delivers sharp execution that no-one else could call their own. The LP begins with A Word, a steady instrumental head nodder, uplifting yet firm in its direction – and it acts as a perfect intro for what lies ahead.
Grazing On Empty combines hypnotic percussion with an electro melody and eerie strings to present a fine example of the modern beat makers arsenal. Was a pleasant surprise to see UK emcee Kashmere on the LP – he features on the track The Most High. If you want to look at it in black and white, this track is sort of split into two parts; the first is a dubbed out dark hip-hop track, then it breaks down in the second half into what is pretty much dubstep territory. Not always one for dubstep stylings, I totally dig this track. The beats are dark and solid and Kashmere acts as the fine veneer on this impeccable aural opus.
Minus the track Trains (featuring E Saint), the rest of the LP is purely instrumental, and it is nothing short of inspired. From the latin sample laden Ritual to the hectic For Simon Cowell and then on to the heavy breaks of Harbour Lights, this LP really has plenty of bases covered. There are so many fine elements to The Softer Diagram and it is sure to grab the attention of anyone and everyone, from pure hip-hop heads to fans of groups like Boards of Canada and even Clark. The spine of The Softer Diagram is clearly hip-hop, but the ventures into further afield sounds have borne nothing but incredible fruit.
The final chapter of The Softer Diagram sees the impeccably downtempo Garden Child grace thine ears, followed by the graceful glitch-hop track Winter Theme, and then finally Dday One‘s fantastic remix of the aforementioned Garden Child. Dday One actually runs the Content label and is the owner of a fine body of work himself, as his MySpace page would attest to.
It’s amazing to think of the various avenues ex-turntablist champs choose to turn down, be it; perpetually touring DJ, mixtape creator, remix junkie, or beat digging hermit – but 2tall is clearly a dedicated man on a larger mission. With The Softer Diagram, 2tall has crafted an astounding array of compositions that, despite his already existing strong pedigree, still caught me by surprise. Sourcing a copy of this LP on vinyl has become my priority number one.