REVIEW: Eric Lau – Makin’ Sound

Jus Like Music favourite and soulful production extraordinaire, Eric Lau, is back with an instrumental long player on Kilawatt Music called Makin’ Sound. At just shy of 45 minutes long, this collection of 20 songs at first appears like a sort of sophisticated beat-tape, but albeit understated, Makin’ Sound is actually a lot deeper than that. Plus, it’s available to buy right now via Bandcamp both digitally and on vinyl (strictly only 500 copies available!).

London based Eric Lau has been on my radar since he dropped I’m Fine (featuring Rahel) back in 2006 as part of Gilles Peterson’s Brownswood Bubblers series. Since then it’s been up and up for the talented young man. Producing an EP on Fat City with Dudley Perkins et al, plus his own debut album (New Territories) a couple of years ago on Ubiquity, and with a host of other high profile production credits – Eric Lau’s CV is rich indeed. Makin’ Sound sees Eric return to previously unreleased work that lacks the aid of vocal contributions, just a producer at his most exposed. And the outcome is solid.

Tracklisting:

01. What The World Should Be
02. Cruise Control
03. Some Time
04. What’s Going Down
05. Lil’ Chop
06. Home Run
07. PPG
08. Warp
09. Bendy
10. Dreamsville
11. Change
12. Give Light, Give Love
13. Militant
14. Minnie
15. Love, Love, Love
16. Whatcha Doin’
17. Noma feat. Ben Hadwen
18. The Bed
19. Nadir
20. Stand Bye

Most of the tracks are less than three minutes long – about half are less than two minutes long – but combined they make up a rich tapestry of beautiful downtempo hip-hop sounds. Exquisitely produced beats with tight instrumentation are present throughout. The levels on the respective sounds, and their consequent spatial placement, are in perfect balance – although, it’s probably worth mentioning that Eric had the assistance of, J Dilla and Pete Rock mastering engineer, Shawn Joseph on the final masters. In which case… what a match made in heaven it is between Shawn and Eric! The longest track on the album is Cruise Control, which is actually available for free download via Bandcamp at the moment.

This is the sort of release that can sit in the background and create an atmosphere, yet also be cranked and appreciated by purists and beat-heads alike. I’ve genuinely not got a bad word to say about the release. As Eric mentions in the above video, he’s putting to bed some unfinished business with Makin’ Sound, with a view to moving to the next stage of his musical journey. Naturally, I’m intrigued to hear what he has up his sleeve with regards to new work, but this latest release will be on rotation at JLM HQ for some time to come.

If you’re looking for an instrumental hip-hop tip with tinges of A Tribe Called Quest, Erykah Badu, Mos Def, J Dilla, Slum Village, then you wont be disappointed. But, rather, you’ll be refreshingly surprised as Eric Lau comes correct with his own unique style and methods. Yet again Eric manages to create music that has sincerity woven into it, with something so organic and honest about it. It’s pretty rare to find hard hitting, laid back tracks with such pure instrumentation and structure, so you better savour it!