Futura, from the Phonographique netlabel, is a short album of immaculately polished Hip Hop/Trip Hop beats which benefit from a surplus of well honed cool and which fall down in missing a trick by being just that bit too smooth.
Technically the production is excellent and the ideas behind the release aren’t weak ones. Rich beats and simple but well placed dashes of flavour create an album which you could easily stick on repeat and play through three times before you find yourself ready to move on. Like tea or chain smoking this release is something you can happily indulge in without ever really stopping to consider – which says a lot about it’s production quality and the consumate professionalism of Ryan Stinson on that front but once you have moved on it’s not a compulsive listen.
The problem, for me at least, is that whilst the instrumental tracks (especially ‘Dissociative’ and ‘Move On’) are undoubtedly good and do go beyond the finnessed cool which permeates the whole release to bring out some strong and occasionally interesting hooks their potential is somewhat wasted by the lack of any prominent concept or sense of self. Like a lot of similar efforts it’s a showcase piece rather than a compeleted album. A couple of days spent listening and I’ve come away with a healthy respect for Ryan’s technical abilities and ear for a cool, laid back beat but it’s not an album I can rave about because solid as it is it’s still lacking a distinct identity of its own.
As if to prove the point my stand out track of the album is ‘Melt’ which features Ghettosocks delivering some solid vocals which strike a perfect balance between taking control of the feel of track whilst not overwhelming the smooth, head nodding sound beneath. And more of that is what Futura could have benefited from, a layer of lyrical identity which held equal status to the production. It’s a familiar enough issue for producers and it’s the rare ones like Anitek who manage to find a partner in crime whose work matches up to their own (Tab) but it’s still what makes a difference between an enjoyable if slightly disinterested listen and an album which genuinely grabs attention.