Based out of Northern Ireland, the Melted Music label has become a much respected platform for emerging bedroom producers. The brainchild of Jee4ce and Urbanize, the label currently caters for SertOne, Father Jack (aka Jee4ce) and Sketch Nine from the Activists. The latest offering from the label is from Portadown playa SertOne with his Shapes in the Sky EP. Flagged as being “hip hop for the new generation”, Sert has had his fair share of coverage to back it up. MTV IGGY, Hot Press and Blog king Nialler 9 are all Sertified fans, let’s hope Noise can join the list.
Opening with ‘Further Down (From Here To There)’, I’m quick to cut the Hip Hop tag from Sert’s neckline. As 8 bit sounds bounce over minimal drum machines, the opener’s vocal is more electro-lounge than purple drank. The buzzing bass line and polysix climb-and-descend are easy to bop the head to and although the hip hop influence is obvious in the groove, it’s more chillout than shoot out. The theme continues into ‘They Call’, which also samples Ini Kamoze’s ‘World a Music’. I’m sure you know the line by now… “Out In The Streets They Call It Merther“. Made famous by Bob’s young fella Damian and rode to death by every DJ / Producer under the sun. It’s back to haunt us once again. Maybe the “new generation” need to be introduced to the line at some point but I can safely say the old skool don’t need a reminder of just what is they call it on the streets.
Samples aside, Sert is well up on his production skill and technique, the EP’s highlight ‘Breath’ (featuring Cork’s Young Wonder) being a fine example. The joyous vocal of Rachel Koeman could easily give Bjork a run for her money, while the hi-hat fizzle (in true 16 beat hip hop glory) works fantastically well, offbeat over the rhythm shifts of the staccato synths. At just over 7 minutes, it stays busy enough to keep your attention firmly focused. The arpeggio knob and Koeman’s intense climax seal the deal in the latter half.
EP closer ‘Lego’ gives way to some breezy pads while the muted bassline sets up camp. There are some interesting patch choices as far as the lead synth sections go, at times sounding like some futuristic voyage through Sherwood Forest. A short ride it may be, but fun nonetheless. The wobbly bass synth stays true to the track’s flow while the 808 stays true to its legacy. There is no shortage of diverse influence throughout the EP and, although an instrumental piece, the closing track is a prime example of what Sert is capable of.
Imagination and willingness to explore outside the boundaries are prime examples of his strengths. The EP’s makeup might sound minimal to some but I like Sert’s take. It’s focused and effective and allows the individual tracks plenty of room to breathe in the mix.
If I could make a request however…I’d like to see Sert push his influences aside and focus more on experimentation. He can keep on throwing Shapes in the Sky but I’d like to see him do it without a safety net. If he happens to fall into a box doing so, let’s hope he thinks outside it.