By far the most artistic and musical UK release of the year so far, Mystery Theatre?, the second album from Bristol based group Aspects is a collection of thirteen extremely enjoyable tracks. This certainly is a hip-hop affair, yet I can't help but observe how different the feel of the CD is to most other products being put out. Perhaps its the production which doesn't once fall into the trap of being mundane and extremely similar to what everyone else is doing, the accents of the vocalists which are a breath of fresh air to the London twang which most of who make up everyone else use or the range of sounds, subjects and atmospheres here.
The opening track is the suitably fitting first single 'Impact', a catchy number announcing the return of the guys. It's attention grabbing, possesses an upbeat tempo and contains a gorgeous drum pattern that stutters at the end of each loop. It paves way for the hunger it builds to be satisfied, and my gosh are our tummy's going to be full. 'Off The Lip' features the up and coming group The Bee's who provide an easy to relate to hook over soul flavoured guitars whilst 'Way Back' implements synthesiser use reminiscent of 1970's Stevie Wonder, a break beat that would fit well into a Cut Chemist set and a chorus much like those of most J5 songs. Not to forget the great beat boxing of new group member
Monkey Moo which is cleverly used to build up and implement a successful finale.
Across the entire project, the rapping skills of all involved seem more focused and enjoyable than those present on previous work. For example, on 'Man Under The Sea' we get an insightful window on looking personality that to date, hasn't been displayed as concise as this. The lyrics slowly tell the tale of a character in the blues over a smooth and laid back mix of bongo percussion and soft guitar plucking. On 'Soul Sister' which follows a short commentary from 'Rev. Soul' much in the same vain as Correct English's (the first album) comments on 'The Blues' we're provided with an interesting story that isn't at any point boring and tedious to follow.
To hack out all the gems on the other seven tracks could be to ruin the pleasure you're likely to take in listening to this album two or three times, still picking up on new things you like the sound of. All I'll say is look out for some interesting electronic effects, a sweet use of the flute, impressive beat boxing blended with a cappella rhyme (this surely makes for a great live performance) and some admirably dug samples. It's very evident that this album was created by professionals extremely knowledgeable of the art of creating quality songs which will stand the test of time.
Be sure to read my chat with the boys in the interview section of this site and the news feature for up and coming Aspect tour dates. Check out the newly launched www.aspects.tv and their label's homepage www.antidoterecords.co.uk and remember, when you start seeing this album getting mentions in snobby twat rags like NME, you heard it here first. It's mighty fine.