The Leeds and London-based outfit are back with their third album ‘Rogue Planet’ a combination of elements from live recordings and improvisations, with an emphasis on blending organic sounds with electronic production techniques. It’s a trip through Electronic, funk, hip hop and soul, brimming with textured samples and intriguing progressions, demonstrating the enviable musicianship on show here. Paper Tigers previous playing credits include Yellow Days, Werkha, Nubiyan Twist, Cinematic Orchestra and have collaborated with Shafiq Husayn, Chester Watson and Foreign Beggars on previous projects. All this should give you an idea of what to expect from ‘Rogue Planet’ but expectations should be left at the door as this is a cosmic leap from their previous work.
Band leader Greg Surmacz explains: “There is still humour and a sense of playfulness hopefully – largely provided by our MC Raphael Attar – but the overall sound is much more lush, jazzy and soulful. We wanted to make something that fits into our universe but hits a deeper emotional nerve.”
‘Rogue Planet’ has a diverse range of guests from the legendary Steve Spacek on lead single ‘The Cycle’ to Olivia Bhattacharjee on ‘Bioluminescent’ and Chicago-born/LA-based MC Lando Chill on the ironically titled ‘Slow Motion’ which with his quick-fire delivery is anything but. The album is a rich and varied listen with G-Funk-esque melodies running throughout, joined by reverberating celestial horns and scattered drum patterns. The result is music which is interesting and technically proficient, but remains vibrant, colourful and funky.
People say you should never judge a book by its cover, in this instance you should never judge an album by its intro track. As ‘Yeah Yeah’ opens you may get the impression you’re in for a bit of Grime with the stripped back beats and MC Raphael Attars clever swaggering rap “Looking like I couldn’t give a f**k” but Paper Tiger flip it on the following track ‘The Cycle’ (featured above) which ends on a nice jazz fused outro [QUICK WASH]. ‘Slinky’ goes all lo-fi with some dreamy instrumental work which just floats out into the atmosphere but don’t get too high because MC Raphael Attars bitter-sweet rap of a single fathers ‘lullaby’ of reassurance to his child brings you down to earthly reality but just ever so briefly before your sent off again with another instrumental delight ‘Cheeky Chops’, tight beats and some smooth saxophone accompaniment. Solid drum work and a slick flow from Lando Chill brings a bit of bounce to the collection here and sets you up perfectly for ‘An Ancient Secret’ with its playful vibe sliding into a space jazz outro [Safe With Me]. Back with MC Raphael Attar and reflections on the daily grind of living in today’s world and what comes with that sudden feeling you may be getting on a bit, ‘Old’ is a slice of reality but with a humorous take rather than that of melancholy. Next up is ‘Posture Poseurs’ an electronic mini adventure with some fine horns that leads up to our third guest vocal track ‘Bioluminescent’ , staggered beats, improv style organ and heavenly vocals from Olivia Bhattacharjee hit all the right notes. [MEGA] comes in with a fast paced but brief interlude of twisted electronica, staccato style beats and dub flavoured sirens led along by a cool modulating synth line. ‘What I Wish I’d Said’ is back with the rhymes of MC Raphael Attar on a bed of understated beats and spaced out synth, its’ a brutally honest take on things often thought but never said when an acquaintance or friend is in an abusive relationship, gritty and unflinching. So we come to the end of our journey with a perfect outro track ‘Time Travels’ minimal beats with organ infused piano and a cool double bass, lo-fi bliss and a fitting end to a quality body of work.
The album and its music bring a message of not opting for the easy route in life, and always challenging oneself. “This world in which we live is somewhere we all want to hide from at some point and we certainly hope our music offers something to get lost in, but this album feels more connected and optimistic: hopeful rather than escapist. In these challenging times it’s important to engage, no matter how tempting it is to do the opposite.” A transmission of hope from the far reaches of the universe.
OUT NOW: on Wah Wah 45s
1. Yeah Yeah
2. The Cycle Featuring – Steve Spacek
3. [QUICK WASH]
6. Cheeky Chops
7. Slow Motion Featuring – Lando Chill
8. An Ancient Secret
9. [Safe With Me]
11. Posture Poseurs
12. Bioluminescent Featuring – Olivia Bhattacharjee
14. What I Wish I’d Said
15. Time Travels
Paper Tiger are:
Matt Davies (Drums) | Oli Cadman (Keyboards, Synths) | Sam Vicary (Bass)
Greg Surmacz (Woodwind, Electronics, Production) I Adam Radley (Turntables, Samples, Production) I Raphael Attar (Vocals)