Paul White

(Copyright © 2020 Piero Scaruffi | Terms of Use )
The Strange Dreams of Paul White (2009), 6.5/10
Sounds from the Skylight (2009), 5/10
Paul White & the Purple Brain (2010), 6/10
Rapping with Paul White (2011), 6/10
Shaker Notes (2014), 5/10
Golden Rules: Golden Ticket (2015), 5/10
Hella Personal Film Festival (2016), 5.5/10
Rejuvenate (2018), 5/10

English producer Paul White emerged with the entertaining all-instrumental album The Strange Dreams of Paul White (2009) that contains 21 very brief pieces with beats and melodies built out of chopped-up samples in the tradition of J Dilla and Madlib. The warped anthemic organ refrain of Burnt By The Sun and the turbulent Bach-ian toccata Road Rage are top examples of his graceful terrorism. The African-tinged Flying Across Tokyo, and the exotic beach dubstep Surfing Off The Coast Of Mexico, a sort of Mexican remix of Rihanna's Pon De Replay, reveal his passion for world-music, and the orchestral funk-soul City Bright Lights is a prelude to so many future incursions into soul music. The panzer beat of Time Wars and the industrial-grade beat of Looking Out to See stand out in the rhythmic department. While voices are generally banned, Floating Free weds syncopated synth line and vocal collage.

After Sounds from the Skylight (2009), an inferior appendix (despite the psychedelic Trying To Tell You, the pounding industrial dance Who's Laughing?, the bombastic videogame-like Alien Attack and the clownish classical remix Ultra Violet), White delivered another surrealistic journey: Paul White & the Purple Brain (2010), a concept influenced both by psychedelic music (the organ-driven Ancient Treasure, Body Spirals Pt II) and by the fusion of world-music and hip-hop on Oh No's Dr No's Oxperiment (Pride, My Guitar Whales and Ride With Me, one of several Indian-tinged pieces). There are both humor and folly in concoctions such as the disorienting carillon of Gentle Freak and the sci-fi electronic shuffle Marshen Signals. Some of the most effective beats last less than a minute, like closer Professional Criminals. Unfortunately, they last less than a minute.

His next album Rapping with Paul White (2011) was divided equally between raps and instrumentals, featuring vocal contributions from several rappers including Danny Brown (in the feverish piano-driven One of Life's Pleasures) and Guilty Simpson (in Trust over a ghostly fanfare and Dirty Slang over a tense organ drone). The most powerful combination of rap and instrumental happens in the explosive Rotten Apples, while the weirdest moment is the goofy polka of A Weird Day. The raps work because they don't alienate but instead highlight the beats, and a handful of the instrumentals further hijack the experience (Right On, the manically pulsating Evasive Action and the autotuned singalong The Doldrums). The album's appeal still lies in the sample-based beats of the producer, especially given the wild variety of sampled styles, from jazz to soul and rock and world-music and classical music.

White used his own vocals on Shaker Notes (2014). Then he formed the Golden Rules with Florida rapper Eric Biddines, a duo documented on Golden Ticket (2015), whose Never Die bridged contemporary hip-hop and orchestral soul of the 1960s, produced Danny Brown's Atrocity Exhibition (2016), and collaborated with Los Angeles rapper Open Mike Eagle on Hella Personal Film Festival (Mello Music, 2016). The latter includes the hilarious Smiling (Quirky Race Doc) and the gloomy synth-pop of Dive Bar Support Group (that ends with a sample of Wild Man Fischer). The erudite White steals from soul (Admitting the Endorphin Addiction), musichall (The Curse of Hypervigliance ), gospel (Insecurity), and jazz (the otherwise swamp-tribal Protectors of the Heat) with manic elegance, and toys like a wizard with vocal harmonies in album's standout Dive Bar Support Group. In general, however, the two minds seem to neutralize each other rather cross-pollinate, and the result is largely disappointing.

Then he seemed to abandon hip-hop altogether for a mellow, nostalgic and heavily-arranged pop-jazz-soul fusion on Rejuvenate (2018).

(Copyright © 2020 Piero Scaruffi | Terms of use )
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