The Very Best – MTMTMK (Moshi Moshi Records/July 16 2012)
By Gary Lewis
Feel like travelling, but your Oyster’s run out? Not enough funds for that ‘Gap yah’? Plotting on the sofa!? Fear not, intrepid listener! The Very Best will literally do their very best to whisk you around the globe to Africa (via Hackney and Sweden), through their ‘infectious like a zombie plague’ album, MTMTMK.
The Very Best is Malawi’s Esau Mwamwaya and London based Swedish producer Johan Hugo (We Don’t Belong In Pacha). Originally, as one half of Radioclit, Hugo blew up speakers with amazing mixtapes, finding favour with eclectic bass merchants such as Diplo and Sinden. Now, for the second album, it’s just him and Mwamwaya, retaining that party flavour but with a little more leaning to a sweeter, pop sound.
The album opens with ‘Adani’, with what sounds like a strangled vuvuzela; a call to arms for a bass-heavy stomper, reminiscent of classic Leftfield. Loose drum fills and an assortment of club techniques (acid builds, sirens, pitch bending) set the tone for the album.
The production techniques are a heady stew of European dance, rump shaking global rhythms and hints of Prodigy rave stabs. There’s electronic dub reggae on ‘Mghetto’, chart friendly style pop-trance beats (with a Very Best makeover) on ‘Moto’ and ghetto-crunk autotune on ‘Rumbae’, which has one of the album’s darker vibes.
The production would stand alone in a club, but the album soars magnificently due to the impressive roll call of guest appearances: Seye Adelekan, Mnek, Mo Laudi, Amadou & Mariam, Winston Marshall (Mumford & Sons) and K’Naan.
It’s not all party beats though. The beauty of ‘Bantu’ sees Amadou & Mariam breaking up the tempo of the album, while on ‘Nkango’, there is a serenity that harks to what I imagine is a more traditional sound. In all, the album will fill you with yearning to discover more about The Very Best and their sonic influences. It’s hard to pin down a genre, so don’t even bother. Hugo himself sums it up as “faster, dancier, darker ”.