The super-skilled beatmaker shines on with his mosaic music

‘Lifted Transmissions’ is the latest EP from Minneapolis beatmaker Ackryte for the super-hot Huh What & Where label.

Ackryte specialises in jazz influenced beats full of skilfully chopped samples and often energetic drum patterns.  These drums provide contrast to the mellow, even melancholy, sounds he creates and manipulates.

The hypnotic qualities of his loops and chops are further balanced by lovely switch-ups and melodic phrases, which come by way of synths, many reminiscent of 80’s arcade games.  He’s also made the rich, fluid bass lines of the G–funk genre his own.  His name is a misspelling of Dr Dre’s ‘Ackrite’, so it’s no surprise his sound pays some homage to the west coast.

On previous releases, like the dirty and dusty ‘Mosaic’, the soul vocals, sloppy drums and choppy keys hint at RZA.  ‘Filmstrip’ is akin to J Dilla’s ‘Airworks’.  His remix of The Robert Digweed Collective’s ‘Red Clay’ and his track ‘Nebula’ both show his flair for blending samples and his own instrumentation.  ‘Red Clay’ sounds as though the beatmaker is jamming with the Collective in true jazz fashion.  ‘Nebula’ is a trippy wall of sound in which a dizzying multi-layered soundscape falls in line and is taken to glorious heights by a synth-led chorus.  Some parts of the track sound underwater.  A lovely bass line glues everything together.

Ackryte brings all of these elements to ‘Lifted Transmissions’.  The drums thump on the restless ‘NoYolo’ as the chords inch closer and closer before they fall back and regroup.  There are some haunting vocals floating in the air and a cinematic feel to the fadeout.  Tracks like ‘AEIOU’s’ and ‘CarpeDaaaaaam’ explore his most soulful side.  The latter teases fragile keys out of the shadows while a female voice plays hide and seek with the beat.  ‘UpperReaches’ makes good use of far-Eastern percussion.

Perhaps the most funky and evocative track is ‘OffTheCuff’, where his beloved G-funk bass line is flaunted all over a gorgeous soul sample.  He lets the sample play in its original form at the end, as if to say ‘Ta-Da’.  The magic is even more brilliant on ‘Poof’: a funky guitar riff is melted, twisted and turned into a new form, then melted and reshaped all over again.  An idea that could quickly become unlistenable in the hands of a lesser beatmaker is for Ackryte a devastatingly successful exercise in creativity and diversity.

The EP ends with the aptly named ‘Concise’.  This gem lasts just under two minutes. All warm, mellow and twinkly, ‘Concise’ re-establishes the pre-‘Poof’ vibe and is a lovely ending to a highly cohesive, very rewarding project from a beatmaker who has mastered his craft.

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