Slackk - Palm Tree Fire

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  • Slackk stands out in grime. A grouchy white guy from Liverpool, Paul Lynch looks a bit like Slimzee's Scouse cousin. Known for his old Grimetapes blog, the man is a walking encyclopedia when it comes the genre, but even with such an eye to the past, his music has never sounded retro. On releases like Raw Mission, Polar Bear and Failed Gods, he fleshed out a sound that felt theatrical. As a founder of the hugely influential Boxed crew, he's had a hand in some of the most innovative grime music we've heard in ages. But Palm Tree Fire isn't flashy about it. Instead, the 15-track record sprawls out in different directions like a paper fortune teller, where all the different pieces are part of the same ornate multi-sided unit. Palm Tree Fire sharpens the melodic side of Slackk's sound. It's by no means a restrained record, but its percussion largely takes a backseat to flowing, lacy melodies. Lynch is a fan of jazz, and that influence comes through in the way he writes wandering melody lines layered with complex harmony. It's a tricky approach that led to some iffy tracks in years past, but he's mastered it here: just listen to how the streaming synths of "Crafty Tiger" intertwine before unfurling again, an effect that turns a simple hook into something surging. He touches on chintzy Far East cliché with "Three Kingdoms," where softly blown flutes and plucked harp sounds replace the heavy midrange. There are more reflective moments as well. It's hard to decide what part of "Wash Your Face In My Sink" is more striking: the welcoming soundscape of dripping water sounds and fluorescent synths, or the heartbreaking melody it wheezes out. Bright, upfront and tuneful, Palm Tree Fire is the inverse of Cold Mission, the debut album from Lynch's fellow Boxed co-founder Logos. Where Logos found inspiration in deconstructing grime, Lynch's invention comes from decorating it with an almost gaudy touch. There's a hint of cello on "T-Shirt & Knickers," while "Litherland" tugs on the heart-strings with weepy arpeggios. These are subtle touches you might not expect to hear at a Boxed night or even in Lynch's previous work, which makes the album feel special—it's a record mostly divorced from its creator's club connections (though tracks like "Puma Walk" and "Ancient Dolphin" could work in that context, too). Palm Tree Fire is an album on which all the tracks are connected, with interludes segueing into meatier productions—an accomplishment in a genre that's never really warmed to the format. It takes Slackk's past ideas to their logical conclusions, rather than making some bold new stylistic move. That might come next, but as it stands, Palm Tree Fire is a beautiful glimpse into the mind of one of grime's most under-appreciated producers.
  • Tracklist
      01. Palm Tree Fire 02. Intercept 03. Millipede 04. Bullfight 05. Crafty Tiger 06. Burnt Ends 07. Litherland 08. Wash Your Face In My Sink 09. Three Kingdoms 10. Jackal 11. T-Shirt & Knickers 12. Hope You Got A 13. Puma Walk 14. Hesitate 15. Ancient Dolphin 16. Kit & Holly