With our minds smashed by Ocean Wisdom's last release, and a no doubt a large number of new listeners for High Focus, Coops arrive at a perfect time to re-assemble our heads and ease us back into the underground scene with a silky-smooth melodic collection in his debut release on this label; No Brainer.
Drifting from the usual Boom Bap vibe you'd expect from High Focus, Coops begins with a collection of soft vocals, melodic choruses, and subtle percussion in an R&B-Meets-gutters delivery where every track will ionize the atmosphere and set the mood from your speakers. The topic of each track is very much 'in the moment' and the album does not seem arranged to tell a story as much as it feels assembled to ensure the smoothest transition between tracks. From modulated vocals and soft-touch samples in 'Dreams (All Mine)', to the more upfront choruses and steady beat in 'L.O.V.E' and eventually the classic HF stomper of 'Pass The Mic Feat. Fliptrix, Rexx & Leaf Dog', the album gradually slopes from an underground experiment in neo-soul to the familiar Hip Hop of the UK's recent years. The topic of each track is a free-standing illustration of a moment. Striking the intended feel with such precision, re-listening to the same track is likely to transport your mind to the same place it did the first time.
The beats make a consistent use of sub bass to fill the room and employ one or two detailed samples to set the scene in each song - over the album the variety is found in the choice of high-end, relying on bass to be the album's constant. Coops is not afraid to pick up tools used in the mainstream and trim them to handle the unforgiving environments of the underground Hip Hop scene. Voice modulation, minimalist high-end synths, and simplistic bass riffs are assembled to give certain tracks a very modern feel. But they gracefully maintain individuality and do not sacrifice themselves to a commercial blueprint but instead, construct something rare from the currently abundant - ending up with something that that fearlessly blurs the lines to find its own foundation. As mentioned earlier, tracks do venture more towards a traditional UKHH assembly, as the album progresses, but they keep that unique Coops vibe. The concluding track; 'That Jazz' does a great job of wrapping up the overall feel from the album into one summarising song.
If your head's ever feeling scrambled, disassembled or outright absent, No Brainer is here to be your compass. The direct and deliberate feel it delivers will have you relaxed, re-aligned, and confident. Whether you want to let yourself settle or get moving with dexterity, this album will power you along in that direction. With it playing in the background, I didn't need to stop and think when writing this review as much as I usually do! And I can already see myself employing it for a good wind-down session.
Order a copy of this mind-driver for yourselves on Tape, Vinyl, or CD, on the 27th of April, or pre-order now at at High Focus Records! A Digital Download is also available for Pre-Order from the Coops Official Bandcamp page.
- Fire@Will - OneLion Sound