@ Shepherd's Bush Empire, London, 15 March 2007
debut, Cold Water Music, began life quietly on its release
in 2000 before gradually growing in popularity and gaining
the attention and acclaim it deserved. The combination of
finely-honed beats, stunning melodies and, at times, disquieting
tension saw the creative force behind the music, Andy Turner,
recognised as a leading hip hop producer and dumbfounded
many when they discovered these sounds were emanating not
from the US, but from Barrow-in-Furness in the UK.
year's Flight 602 maintained the critical acclaim of both
that debut and follow-up Hinterland and tonight's tour-closer
showcased each phase of Turner's gentle musical evolution.
The sizeable, nine-piece entourage take to the stage fronted
by singer Niko and launch into soulfully
funksome early production, Concentrate. The lazy drum loops
and hint of jazz that follows remind us of how Aim has seen
his music feature on countless chill out compilations, but
that's not to say this is background music, it's far too
emotionally engaging for that.
tempo rises as Niko takes over for a raucous, flute-flecked
slice of hard funk before the orchestral drama of old favourite
Journey To The End Of The Night is brilliantly reproduced,
complete with cowbell and bongo solos. The purple patch
continues with new offering Landlord, which is nothing short
of spectacular, Niko's soaring vocals giving the track an
ethereal edge that is both moving and uplifting.
Asante takes to the stage for some crowd-stoking
MCing, before Northwest once again displays Turner's ear
for a sublime melody, providing another of those special
moments that set him apart from the crowd. A trumpeted,
string-laden instrumental then dips before roaring back
to life with some lead-heavy beats.
this as chill out or (worse still) trip hop at your peril;
some tracks may prove more memorable than others, but overall,
this is down tempo music at its very finest. Having said
that, Are You Satisfied? positively rocks from start to
finish, ending on an absolutely manic, mesmerising keyboard
solo. The crowd lap up each song, but none as enthusiastically
as the early material, so when the icy opening bars of Cold
Water Music are aired, the whoops and cheers come as no
the night, Turner takes very much a side role. Clad in over-sized
jeans, he plays percussion, guitar and keyboard while never
really taking centre stage, but his music shines. Yes, there
are elements of funk and soul, hip hop and horizontal, smoked-out
calm but the Cumbrian beatsmith's approach takes a wider
perspective, striking a deeper chord than most of his contemporaries.
remix of The Girl That Fell Through The Ice begins the encore
before another funk workout, featuring more of Niko's soaring
vocals, brings to an end a night of many highs. Turner is
a master of his art and, on tonight's performance, without
doubt remains one of the UK's finest hip hop producers.
Ian Roullier, 03/2007