The sonic equivalent of a night on the sesh, CMPND’s debut album on High Focus is an unforgettable introduction to the vibrant characters that make up the Brighton-based trio. Taking its name from the block of flats in which CMPND’s three members lived and recorded the entire project, Eagle Court is truly brought to life in a murky soundscape furnished with outlandish tales and experiences. Their High Focus backing has only served to further their individuality as every aspect of the project- from the production to the visuals- embodies the Eagle Court aesthetic, resulting in a project that feels wholly complete within its dizzying disorderliness.
To their newfound audience on High Focus, the CMPND’s verses do their own introductions- from Wundrop’s straight-talking vitriol to Vitamin G’s climactic moments of cinematic violence (“True to what I’m full blessed with/put a foot through the door you’re looking for the exit”) to Kemastry’s tripped-out nuggets of lyricism, each outlandish character is on full display. There is also a great deal of synergy to be found in this contrast, as they explore different grooves and facets of the beat to really round out a track: Vitamin G’s breakneck flows are counterbalanced by Kema’s heavier approach, while (King Long himself) Wundrop has a distinct tendency to go at his own pace, speeding up and slowing down at whim.
This capacity for each member to flaunt their best owes itself in no small part to Wundrop’s uncompromising production, which manages to create a space of its own in a UK scene that at times feels overcrowded. From the outright boom-bap track ‘Dusty Ivory’ to the lo-fi inspired ‘Purpatrait’, and even the more eclectic mixes on ‘Paraphrase’ and ‘U Know We Fly’, the instrumentation on this project covers a lot of ground yet somehow stays within the confines of Eagle Court.
Indeed, it is as all elements of the group come together that CMPND really come into their own- verses full of aphoristic turns of phrase and kaleidoscopic flows sit deep beneath vocal distortions in the mix, contributing to a listening experience that is equal parts mesmerising and disorienting. This twisted sound only intensifies as the project progresses and almost seems to tell a narrative- opening with Vits calling someone round to the house on ‘Eagle Court’, the crew proceed to get embroiled in increasingly outlandish exploits throughout tracks like ‘[email protected]’ and ‘Flight 370’ before finally crashing down on ‘Hindenburg’ and waking up to deal with the aftermath on final track ‘Days to Daze’. Eagle Court is a trip in more ways than one and this is actively embodied in its promo run: stumbling around murky streets tinged with filters and distortions, the visuals for the albums four lead singles really bring the CMPND’s environment to life.
Though less surprising for fellow Brighton regulars Verbz, Herb and Nuphzed, it is no small feat how well each of the project’s guest appearances meld into the Eagle Court aesthetic, with Fliptrix and Dirty Dike both donning a coarser demeanour for their verses on ‘Hindenburg’. Brighton local Hutch, too, has a stand-out performance on ‘Illeagle Court’, whose bombastic delivery fills out the corners as the fourth member on the track and definitely lives up to Harvs le Toad’s summation of him as “some fucking jazz prodigy” at Brighton’s Ultrasound event [LINK] earlier this year.
From its twisted soundscape to its extravagant characters, CMPND’s murky world of dimly-lit Brighton streets oozes out of every aspect of the project- Eagle Court is brimming with character, to say the least. Each of the technically impressive trio succeeds in showing off their individuality whilst still staying true to the CMPND aesthetic, delivering a cohesive and immersive experience that is truly one of a kind.
Pre-order Eagle Court here now!