The Herbaliser – Same As It Never Was
Same As It Never Was is The Herbaliser‘s sixth LP and it’s out now on !K7.
As I mentioned the other week, this is somewhat new territory for The Herbaliser. Incorporating extra members on a more permanent basis with a focus on finding a more organic sound than before. I’m sure, like me, you’ve seen The Herbaliser travel through the various elements of hip-hop, turntablism and electronica, and although these stylings can be heard throughout Same As It Never Was, there has been a definite shift… as promised really.
What we have here is an LP spanning twelve tracks of pure dynamite. Don’t be alarmed, at times it will sound very different to what you’ve come to expect from the guys, but that is exactly the point: Same As It Never Was.
01. Same As It Never Was
02. On Your Knees (feat Jessica Darling)
03. Just Won’t Stop (feat Yungun Aka Essa)
04. The Next Spot
05. Can’t Help This Feeling (feat Jessica Darling)
06. Amores Bongo
07. Street Karma (A Cautionary Tale) (feat Jean Grae)
08. You’re Not all That (feat Jessica Darling)
09. Blackwater Drive
10. Game Set &Match (feat More Or Les)
11. Clap Your Hands (feat Jessica Darling)
12. Stranded on Earth (feat Jessica Darling)
The horn driven intro track of the same name, Same As It Never Was, contains elements of turntablism and features emcee samples. It’s a perfect appetizer for what lies ahead. Live instrumentation coupled with exquisite vocals, whilst keeping the hip-hop foundations that were shaped and formed over many years.
Vocalist Jessica Darling features throughout and lends her strong, yet gritty, skills to no fewer than five tracks on the album. Jessica is the perfect compliment to this new found sound – a sort of musing between big beats and funk in a typically Herbaliser fashion. I think it is important for artists to branch out and grow, discovering new avenues and sounds, but it is also key to ensure that your newer creations keep elements of what has served so well in the past. For me The Herbaliser have done just that. This is totally different to Take London, or pretty much any of the previous albums, but you can still hear that it’s The Herbaliser, no mistaking that.
Same As It Never Was doesn’t abandon pure hip-hop by any means. Just Won’t Stop features UK hip-hop emcee Yungun. A bouncing track featuring a cultural narrative from the aforementioned lyricist. Also, long time collaborator and female emcee extraordinaire, Jean Grae is back once more on the track Street Karma (A Cautionary Tale) – the guys did well to get her on board considering all the rumours circulating about Jean’s supposed retirement. Anyway she delivers as strong as ever on this track. Another emcee on Same As It Never Was is the American Canadian rapper More Or Les. He commented on Jus’ Like Music when I initially mentioned the imminent release of this album and man does he have skills!
There are some killer tracks on this album, like Can’t Help This Feeling – an absolute banger of a funk-hop track featuring Jessica Darling. You’ll recognise the lyrics for sure – but once that chorus kicks in… wow… gives me goose bumps. Stranded On Earth is also an amazing track – absolutely beautiful and serves as an outro to the album, yet again laced by the wonderful talents of Jessica Darling, it lies somewhere between The Cinematic Orchestra and Shawn Lee’s Ping Pong Orchestra – just magic.
The album seems to evenly space the tracks by their specific styles. So that the vocal funk tracks are separated by instrumental and hip-hop tracks – This works well as there is a consistent, unique, element throughout. Would be easy to miss the target with such a tactic, but with strong material and tight production, I doubt there was ever a concern that this wouldn’t work.
For some, Same As It Never Was, may not immediately hit the target, especially if you have preconceptions of a typical Herbaliser album. However I do genuinely believe that the tide is changing and people are, generally, more accepting and willing to keep an open mind when hearing new music today. The ‘growers’ often turn out to be the best LPs in the long run anyway. I shudder to think what my life may have been like if I’d only listened to certain albums just the once and then abandoned them. Personally, I have quite eclectic tastes anyway, and although I was slightly surprised by the change in direction for The Herbaliser, it was a very pleasant surprise. With an open mind anything is possible. Great work guys.