Thursday, 7 February 2013

#ESPspotlight Review: 7 Days, 7 Mixtapes - 7: 'Grandeur Pulse' by Lekhem









Here lies the first in my '7 days, 7 mixtapes', Valentine's guide, where I give you some musical suggestions to help you set the mood for 'The Big Night'. It's only right that I start at home with our resident sexpot and his most recent EP, Grandeur Pulse. You didn't think Lekhem was going to release a project without your reading what I had to say about it, did you? Come on now, I think we all know better!

It's the 'Lovers' time of year and so I decided to save my take on the 21st December EP for the period it's most suited to! Diving straight into my first #ESPspotlight music review of the new year (don't worry, there are many more to follow); when Lekhem first broke down the title of his second Instrumental and final release of 2012, I had no idea that it was to be his most apt yet...

'KrateDiggin The Instrumentals Mixtape', March 2012
Granted a brief, October preview of two standalone instalments completely different to the sound of his first Instrumental offering; no-one was more keen to hear the direction of this mixtape than Yours Truly.

His determination to come straight out of left-field was never more evident than on my first listen, when that opening track literally smacked me in the ear. Sort of. Ok, metaphorically speaking. No Chris Brown'ing of family members round here...

Bigger, 'Grandeur' and larger than life; there is a braggadociousness in the introduction that takes Lekhem into a new musical era, all of his own creation. Where 'KrateDiggin' gave you an insight into the calm, affable, friendly musician's son from round the left-London way; with 'Grandeur Pulse', he somehow managed to achieve something unusual in most Artists/Producers on the scene today - he produced a project under his 'Artist' persona. Still with me?

What I mean by that, is in 'Grandeur Pulse', the cocky confidence of 'The Rapper', meet the elite skills of 'The Producer'. Both reign equally supreme and dominant for the first time in a complete body of work. So when 'Heavenly' uses that sample to whack you upside of the head with what sounds like a brand new song entirely - know that the Wisconsin / Kingston native has only knocked you through the first of twelve bedroom rounds.


The next blow comes courtesy of the standout track of a mixtape full of big hitters. 'Feeling Right' is an actual insult because the sample is put to better use in a chorus and hook, than the full original. It's one of those 'stuck in your head for days' type of tracks that make you feen for an out of reach 'Play' button, instead of a frying pan. No brain-bashing required, like the best you've ever had - this one you don't want to end.

This is where it becomes clear that this project is a testimony to the heyday of 90's R&B. Those golden, glory days when everyone brought their 'A' game and REAL musical talent was 10 a penny. Though the original is more current, the distinction of Lekhem's arrangement and futuristic gloss is what peppers this particular Instrumental with 'old skool' flavour and heat. It's only at the track's close that you realise you've been duped but, it's been done with such finesse that by that point, you fail to actually care...


Download 'Grandeur Pulse' now
'ComeAndTalk' is a straight cruise of a track; one that you completely zone out to. Drive to it, kick back, or roll in the hay... I endorse playback on full-blast through headphones to this (in complicit knowledge that you are jeopardising your own hearing with the bass and thus cannot sue me if you go deaf. It may be worth the sensory loss, but YOU ARE forewarned and I am uninsured).


'Best You Have' was the second of two previews I heard prior to the full project's release ('Heavenly' being the first). Now it's entirely possible I put a slight spook in him with this one; being a firm advocate of not messing with greatness and warning him off several of my favourite classics. In true Lekhem fashion, he delivered the most insolent response possible and sampled an anthem made great by not one, but two timeless icons. And that reworked title was just an extra jab while sporting a grin full of Wisconsin's strongest cheddar (Wisconsin > Cheese State > cheesy grin - geddit?)...

The first of my non-favourites, bass-heavy 'Gimme' has the feel of a transition track that keeps the pace; like one of those marathon runners that the pack struggle to keep time with for a period, but who you know are never going to win the race. Lulling you into a false sense of security; you wouldn't be blamed for thinking the blows were about to stop coming with this one. For me, it's the soundtrack to a break in the 'action'.

Saddle up quick though, as this is where the next ride begins. 'Caddy' is a track full of bare cheek; where The Jamerican One draws you into another annoying round of 'Name That Sample' (I remember the 'good ole days' when I used to win every round of this game...I imagine the newfound difficulties he keeps hitting me with akin to levels on a computer game). I find it hard to imagine how a vocalist could better this one, but consider this my personal call out to try. It's another prime example of this mixtape confusing you into forgetting that there are no actual new vocals on this entire project. You find yourself singing along to the clever use of sampled clips from the original song samples and four tracks in, you find yourself under the mistaken impression that this Extended Play is a full blown album. Again, a standout heavy hitter that should end in you hollering at the top of your lungs, one way or another.

'Butterfly Tattoo' is the first of what I like to call 'The Film Score Moments'. It's where the mixtape goes mentally 'visual', for a mix of film genres in keeping with the musical cocktail. For me, this one is total 'Indie flick material'. In French. With subtitles. Sexy in a weirdly dark way and generically confusing with that bass; visions of starving artists in Parisian lofts, painting nudes, dining on bread and brie comes to mind...Don't ask, just listen, you'll get it.

Download 'Grandeur Pulse' from Dat Piff now...
'The Craze' is the perfect follow up to all of that imagery. Living up to the name, this is Lekhem's Pied Piper moment; only instead of a flute, this one hypnotises with Fruity Loops, as he bops through West London's streets, enticing you wayward kids. There's no doubt  you'll fall prey to the musical Candyman; the only question is whether you'll forgive yourself in the morning, for the bedroom vices these tracks inspire tonight...

I nicknamed 'Cruise Ship' the 'P&O song' within its first 6 seconds of play. Not listening to this under a baking Sun, reclined on a deck chair in your itsy bitsy, metallic one-piece with something chilled and fruity in your glass is a crime against your own birth. Yes that shiny one piece extends to you adventurous fellas too - you're granted a 3:57 spandex pass, it's pace is that hypnotic. You're taken aback by the way in which the sample is used, but only in a 'coasting the waves, lull you to sleep with the Sun kissing your skin', kind of way. Aaah, it's good stuff is that...Hey, I told you it gets visual, I accept no blame for where my mind is taken. That's the art in, well, Art - it's open to experiment...I mean interpretation...

'Blue Pulse' is a serious R&B slice, laced with a 'whine up yuh waist' dose of Jamaica. Whether pon di dancefloor or the bedroom - bodies will move to this one. If 'KrateDiggin' had 'Rum Punch', then this is Lekhem aka Lexington's likkle dose of Malibu...

You'd be forgiven for thinking 'Jag Love' was somehow related to the 90s airforce TV show - I know I did, but you would also be mistaken. A tribute to my favourite male group of the late 90s to date; Lekhem once again samples an original to create an entirely different track. Only the true R&B heads will win in this 'Name That Sample' round; though I'm sure with good teamwork, scoring can *ahem* be achieved by other means...

'Our Time' is the last of 'The Film Score Moments'. Evoking a feeling of being suspended in time, something about it reminds me of a mainstream 80s film with a well-concealed Soul truncheon in its underpants. You would never get that much bass in a 'License To Drive', 'The Breakfast Club' or anything starring a Corey or a Molly. Maybe something with a little Vanity though...it leaves you wanting to watch 'The Last Dragon' and questioning why the fear of flammable chemicals never halted jheri curl wearers. Ok maybe that last part is just me, but a Universal question it still should be, no? Back to the topic at hand - though full of the tempestuous joys of young love, this isn't one of the set's biggest for me. That being said, it is the perfect slow finish to an epic compilation.

Infectious, mesmerising, seductive. It was a bit of a mockery for Lekhem to describe this to me as "a bit of a sexy tape". I'm willing to put money on babies already in the incubation stage (expect namesakes around August). The only thing that could have bettered this project overall, would have been to hear a few verses match the calibre of the production, but hey, there's always the next release, right Lek? Hint, red-label, 18+ certified, hint...

Download 'Grandeur Pulse' now from 'The Food' page at LekLane...

Download 'Grandeur Pulse' and a host of other Lekhem works here...

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Now you've got the sexy sounds, it's time to think about the perfect gift to match - right, Fellas? Grab 15% off jewellery and accessory orders at MyFlashTrash.com with my special Brand Ambassador code - you don't need to thank me now; give it 9 months and let me know when I've got a November namesake!




Enjoy...and you're welcome!
ES ;)