Kelela – CUT 4 Me
For many fans of the Night Slugs/Fade to Mind labels, this means one of the most exciting releases of the year; for other people it’s just another release on one of countless record labels they’ve never heard of and it would usually pass them by completely. However, I feel that this release should actually be more important to the later group than the cult followers that the labels have attained.
Earlier in the year Kelela supplied amazing vocals for the track ‘Bank Head‘ on Kingdom’s Vertical XL EP (released on Fade to Mind), but has now come up with this as her own “mix tape” on the same label. Yet I feel it’s much more than a mix tape, due to all its songs feeling a lot more connected by a general theme of bad breakups and lost love. For me at least, it’s being worthy of called an album.
Produced entirely by Night Slugs/Fade to Mind artists and affiliates, this is a recommended listen for regular fans and a recommended introduction to the labels for anyone else. It’s the sort of sound you can expect from all producers on Night Slugs/Fade to Mind, but made more accessible because of the almost pop feeling added by Kelela’s beautiful vocals. As I’ve already mentioned, Kelela’s vocals are amazing, but do occasionally go out of tune. Although this would usually be seen as a negative, and is in my opinion the one thing that brings it down, it’s a deep breath of fresh air from the usually heavily auto-tuned vocals on most pop releases.
Highlights for me are: ‘Enemy’ (produced by Nguzunguzu), which starts with angry metallic stabs and just gets slowly more enraged until the end of the track – everything from the frantic tom-tom rolls to the sound of breaking glass after “up in my face” just oozes rage. ‘Floor Show’ (produced by Girl Unit) follows a much calmer theme than ‘Enemy’, giving a sense of reconciliation. There’s also tension though, due to the use of a pentatonic scale for the main body of the song, with synths reminiscent of Girl Unit’s Club Rez EP, and an ending with a much sadder sounding organ in a minor scale.
‘A Lie’ (produced by Bok Bok) is by far the saddest and most emotive of all the songs, with Bok Bok only giving a few electric piano chords, a sample of birdsong for the vocals to drift over and occasional kick drums to add some drive to the song. ‘Cherry Coffee’ (produced by Jam City) is a nice, mellow, yet rhythmic ending to the album, using an almost funk like bass line that swells over you after a long intro of beeps and soothing string pads. As the track progresses, you just get more and more wrapped up in it until it brings the album-slash-mix-tape to an end.
CUT 4 Me is well worth a listen, especially because it’s free here. Hopefully it’ll get a few more people interested in two amazing groups of producers.