- One for your car, especially if you're a fan of Actress or Hype Williams.
- 5GTOUR, the new album by John T. Gast, was initially released as a CD on his November tour of Asia and uploaded to Bandcamp afterwards. Its 11 tracks were apparently made with an Akai MPC app on a tablet during flights. The breezy flow of this record, which has the feel of an old-school beat tape, reflects those origins. It's also completely absorbing.
Like the best of the UK artist's work, 5GTOUR wanders through different styles and moods, from hip-hop and digi-dub to techno. You could think of it as a cross between Actress, J Dilla and Hype Williams, the duo of Dean Blunt and Inga Copeland that Gast has collaborated with in the past. But unlike Gast's previous records, 5GTOUR has a simplicity and directness that gives the music a newfound urgency.
The music is more complex than it lets on. Two hip-hop tracks, "Piano Plane Ravenna" and "Into The West," are both built around simple melodic ideas and seem straightforward, but they're full of details you might miss on first listen. The beat on "Piano Plane Ravenna," for example, is occasionally interrupted by crunchy samples, some of which sound like a cashier's drawer slamming shut.
Though 5GTOUR is raw, there's a sleight of hand that gives even unpolished tracks an unexpected emotional complexity. You can hear this on "Yep," whose late-arriving counterpoint bassline undercuts the track's rowdy vibe. Elsewhere, 5GTOUR gets hectic. "Plane Landing Vox" staccato drums and grating vocal samples are a footwork nightmare. (The title and mood suggest a fear of flying.) The delay-drenched horns of "Manc TK 2" hint at Gast's love of digi-dub before its fast, staggering beat hits like a hailstorm.
These rough experiments remind me of another Gast collaborator, Tribe Of Colin, in the way they foreground the live music-making process, immortalizing mistakes and irregularities. 5GTOUR is a carefree affair compared with full-lengths like Excerpts. Even Gast's own description, "1 for your car," seems to downplay it. But his specific gifts remain clear. Like his collaborator Dean Blunt, Gast's music has an impenetrable magnetism. Some of 5GTOUR's best tracks are just a couple of samples and a drum pattern. With an ear for arrangement like Gast's, you don't need much more than that.
03. Into The West
05. Manc TK 2
06. Cyber Strings
07. Plane Landing Vox
10. SPDM Return TK3
11. Piano Plane Ravenna