As the first rays of English sunshine slowly begin melting people’s brains, a desire to cease thinking and simply zone out rises, compelling us to flock to overcrowded beaches, eat questionable amounts of junk food, and pay money to watch the latest garbage Hollywood decides to toss our way. In terms of listening habits, it’s quite easy to get caught up in the the warm glow brought on by the wave of summer jams that have recently begun frying the airwaves. But now, like a quick shot of ice water down the throat, comes Chavassian Striking Distance, the latest EP from Edward Scissortongue and Lamplighter, to remind us how sharp a tool the human mind can really be.
We begin with ‘EFIM’, the first of four instrumental tracks that comprise half of the entire record. On supreme form, Lamplighter steadily builds a deadly electronic melody that encourages listeners to construct their own dark visuals as a sense of menace and suspense gradually bleeds through. With its tragic piano keys ‘The Prospector’ continues to feed our suspicions over the shadowy world we’ve just stepped into. Here, Scissor makes a canvas of our imagination, intricately painting pictures of a world that seems just slightly out of reach. It’s a beautifully crafted song that solidifies his position as one of the best storytellers in the game. Likewise, Lamplighter continues to display tremendous skill with ‘Thorfinn’, a popping glitch beat that illuminates the Glasgow-based producer’s fearless approach to the craft. ‘Same in the Dark’ however is the most genuine example of the duo’s capabilities as a combined force. It’s an ominous joint that sees Scissor confessing “honest to God, I was honest to God / I swear he wasn’t honest with me” over some tortured strings that will send listeners to a place of despair. As an effective work of poetry it arguably acts as a foundation for the entire EP.
What makes Chavassian Striking Distance unique is that it aims to challenge as much as it does to inspire and entertain. Understanding and acknowledging their fans’ capacity for experimentation and deviation, Scissor and Lamplighter succeed in creating a unified sound that breaks tradition in a very interesting way. Countless artists have employed elements of other genres in their music before and the results are all too familiar. However, in this instance, the electronic persona that the record adopts serves to alter how we interpret hip-hop as a whole. In short, it’s a reminder that hip-hop is a limitless space and is there to be explored, something many artists tend to forget in their efforts to break mainstream charts or capture the streets. No track better expresses this than the EP’s climax, ‘Attic’. Over a peculiar blend of computerised synths and Teddy Riley-esque clicks, Scissor ponders time and existence, spitting “The new you, a mirror image / family trees, branches and leaves, awfully withered”. Even more interesting is the hook which sees the MC flexing his vocal muscles and harmonising. It’s unexpected but a brilliant way of bowing out.
For those seeking a summertime soundtrack boiling with beach bangers look elsewhere as this is not a record to be taken lightly. That’s not to say that it’s not a fun ride but in addition to your time Chavassian Striking Distance requires your concentration and a little imagination. As a lead up to their sophomore album, Scissor and Lamplighter deliver in all departments. The beats are infectious, the rhymes are focused, and the atmosphere is thick. It’s not just music, it’s an experience.
By Ashni Dadry