The Thinker and the Prover is a melding of old and new, that moves Limerick’s MyNameIsJohn into a space in instrumental sample hip-hop he can almost call his own. He hasn’t reinvented the wheel here but he has tastefully repackaged the type of music exemplified by Shadow et al of 15 years ago and placed it in the context of contemporary bass music scenes from London, Glasgow, LA and the Southern US via the Irish west coast.
‘Portals’ exudes that idea by repackaging a classic rhythm you can really throw your back into, beat juggling inspired vocals cuts, some light scratching and the flat-out swagger of a “hip-hop will never die” sample. It reads like an homage to hip-hop and turntablism, updated for the bass music generation.
None of the tracks on here are straight-forward and the authors engagement with truths in a melancholic and complex world is evident throughout. Hints of this complexity can be discerned from the R. A. Wilson problem that lends the release its title and the philosophical axioms that are scattered throughout; sometimes offering dystopian imagery, sometimes comfort and clarity. Similarly, a light scratching of the surface of ‘She Always Lets Me Leave’ reveals a scary world where the hope that comes from dusting yourself off and trying again. It’s a highlight.
The thematic density throughout is suitably paralleled by the lush full-bodied nature of the music itself. ‘Sweaty Dreams of Bate Kush’ descends to a dark place, dripping with smokey seduction where the ritualistic ambience and swirling piano loops have an entrancing effect. All this before we are dropped headfirst into what is best described as the greatest ten second montage of ‘Johnny’ themed samples you’re ever likely to hear. Because this release isn’t all doom, far from it. ‘Poppadoms Do Delivery’ places us firmly on an eastern mission for kicks around town at max speed. ‘Ice Cube’s Momma is Doris’ is reminiscent of the fun of ’80s electro-hip-hop and ’00s crunk. Diversity abounds throughout.
It’s a year since the last MyNameIsJohn release and the steps he’s taken in that year have resulted in a fuller and more sonically impressive product. On an artistic level, the ambition of the project as a whole is to be commended. This release points throughout to the surprises that life throws up, whether they are difficult, fun or worrying. The point is perhaps to stop and be ‘the thinker’ that the title points to, an idea with great relevancy in this, the era of system meltdown.
The Thinker and the Prover is out now on Stress, Debt & Chestpains for free or by donation. http://stressdebtchestpains.bandcamp.com/