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Mumdance - Take Time EP

Grime producer Mumdance brings a young MC into a scene dominated by instrumentals and rappers.

Additional Info

8.0

ALBUM: Take Time EP

ARTIST: Mumdance

2014

Electronic

Jack Adams, better known as Mumdance, has been busy in 2014. Building off a foundation of instrumental grime, Mumdance spent the past half-a-year expanding his sound to include MCs and international soundscapes. Along with the release of Take Time EP, this month alone has seen the grime artist travel to Egypt to collaborate with Cairo musicians Figo, Sadat, Diesel, and Knaka in a 30-minute mix. Currently signed to the influential UK label Rinse, Mumdance is poised to play an increasingly influential role in the world of grime.

Though Mumdance is often associated with labels that occupy the instrumental sector of the grime movement, such as Gobstopper Records (whose owner, Mr. Mitch, released a narcotized edit of the “Take Time” instrumental), Take Time’s main artistic shift seems to be a move from strictly instrumental grime tracks to the inclusion of MCs, like title-track feature Novelist. In grimes heyday in the early 2000’s MC’s like Dizzy Rascal, Roll Deep, and Kano dominated the scene, with the instrumentals taking a back seat. Novelist harkens back to these days, and his surprising youth (at the age of sixteen) implies a bright future. Where the first generation of MC’s are reaching their thirties and looking to move away from the scene, young blood is beginning to take their place. Thus, Novelist recaptures some of his predecessor’s adolescent vigor, with lyrics that call into question the conspicuous consumerism in the UK grime scene, and rap in general. Like many other MCs inflected by the Rasta subculture in the UK scene, Novelist sits back and critiques other MCs less considerate of their part in corporate systems.

“Take Time” may be a stand out track on the EP, but Mumdance still manages to keep interest up with two other instrumentals. Whilst the icy and broken feel in “The Sprawl” doesn’t lend itself quite as well to MC accompaniment, the track has character—albeit a fairly bizarre one. This oddity arises from the samples that he chooses, that are complex but not overly emotive, with parts of the track sounding like a laser-tag cluster-fuck, whilst others play out like a fight scene in Star Wars transplanted into a machine shop. Consequently, Mumdance’s sonic palette is quite unique, employing a minimal construction to encourage the listener to engage with the quality of the sounds sampled. These sounds tend to have a rhythmic element—as opposed to the more melodic sampling that most electronic artists prefer—that brings a very particular feel to the tune. Thus, with little harmony or melody to speak of, Mumdance focuses on the interaction between different tones and textures in his samples, and sudden shifts in feel to keep the listener guessing. One of the most striking shifts is on “Don’t Get Lemon”, where a cinematic buildup leads abruptly to the track’s initial sparse and inharmonic bass drop. Though it follows the build-to-drop formula prevalent in dance music, it does so in such a way as to disorient the listener. It might take some getting used to for the average consumer of chord progression based music, but it’s worth the time.

Mumdance’s take on grime in Take Time is not revolutionary, but it is a continuation of the quality productions coming out of grime’s burgeoning rebirth in the UK. What’s most impressive about the album is his attempt to create a bass heavy, hip-hop influenced brand of UK bass that avoids the trap trend. Though there is nothing particularly wrong with trap, the stylistic elements of the genre (808 base drums, rap vocal sampling, and the ever present stuttering and slippery high-hat line) have infected many genres of bass-built electronic music, and it is refreshing to see a different approach. Rather than overloading the senses, Mumdance’s sampling is full of space, but still somehow manages to be compellingly danceable. On “Take Time”, much of this flow has to do with Novelist’s contribution, but the other tracks—particularly “Don’t Get Lemon”—manage to create club-friendly atmospheres without the bombastic.

“They could have Gucci belts but go home to an empty fridge.”

1. Take Time
The track is very catchy without being melodic or rhythmically layered, owing much to the addictive textures produced by the pitch-modulated harmonics of the bass drum. Without the use of much high-hat propulsion, Mumdance manages to keep the energy going with samples that punch (one sounds like a comic book kungfu kick) and others that pulse. Novelist’s lyrical content is not overly complex, but his flow is grime at its best, and the hook in particular will be spending some time in your head.8.5
2. The Sprawl
This track brings together elements of breakbeat, without returning to the retro drumkits of the genre’s heyday. “The Sprawl” features laser shots, a pounding distorted bassline, and sparse drum sampling, all punctuated by swells and screams at the end of every few bars. Sinister and futuristic, the track is definitely not for those afraid of some noise.7.0
3. Don’t Get Lemon
Mumdance seems to be really engaged with ambiance, and lack thereof, within this track. Beginning with a classically emotive rain sample, the track quickly shifts into deep bass kicks, wobbly synths, and a growling harmonic accompaniment to the bass (whose harmonics are not too far from that of “Take Time”). Mid track, the songs switches once again to the emotive, with a cinematic build featuring string sample and ‘eastern’ vocal samples, but abruptly shifts back to the wobbles and clicks that dominate much of the song.8.0
4. Take Time (Instrumental)
Though the track can stand on its own without Novelist, something is definitely lost without him. Some averse to rapping may enjoy the instrumental neat, but Novelist’s talent makes it clear that it is an MC track after all.7.0
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