Don’t know who Pitch 92 is? As the UK legend Jehst states on track no.2 of Pitch’s latest album – “you’ll see”.
On the last day of February 2019, the Manchester-based producer releases his first, rather ambitious, solo-produced album on the independent powerhouse that is High Focus.
Following his Lost in Space EP from last year – a humble display of his ability to connect talented vocalists with relaxing hip-hop-mirrored-jazz – this 17-track LP is a multifaceted auditorium, showing the versatility of not only his peers but his beat making craftsmanship.
Influenced heavily by Pete Rock, J Dilla & Madlib he’s aware “the hardest thing to get right is the drums and the bass”, so he focuses on that. The majority of the beats coming off an MPC Renaissance in his basement, so ready a good set of headphones or speaker for serious, subterranean vibrations.
The former Mouse Outfit producer wanted the LP to be “versatile, rather than a straight UK Hip Hop album, as people might expect for High Focus.” The stellar list of 26 featuring artists is the initial indication this album is packing.
Just as an example, the first feature on the album proves to be a rare, Four Owls flurry – a bowsy track with some slick, Premier-style cuts from DJ Jazz T. The last feature comes from the soulful Jerome Thomas, who rounds off the album with a likkle D’Angelo vibe, that took a few reworks to get just right, Pitch says. Still, the template Pitch constructed on Worth It allows Jerome’s graceful vocals to flow out the speakers like smoke in the sunlight. His harmonies are truly a transcendent end as the outro carries us from Pitch’s 3rd Culture world, back home.
Pitch has drafted in help from across the globe on this one. YNR and High Focus engineer, Chemo mastered the whole thing from Bangkok. Doctor Outer’s vocal tones drop some Yankee spirit in the mix. The saxophone player you’ll hear, sent his parts via email from L.A. Ashley Henry, the jazz pianist and former house mate, played on a few of the tracks. The artwork was put together in Japan by Pitch’s childhood mate from Frankfurt, Nearski.
When discussing album names, Nearski suggested ‘3rd Culture’. Born to Irish parents, raised in Germany/Switzerland and moved to Manchester in 2009 – Pitch is a third culture kid – as is Nearski. This amalgamation of culture in Pitch’s life so far brings the richness you’ll hear on the album.
You’ve got the stompers; 3rd Culutre feat. Jehst, Swoop feat. The Four Owls, Humanoid feat. King Kashmere, Verb T, Mysdiggi. Over a fuzzy but chilling string sample, Kash, Verb & Mystro go back to back with a flurry of comedic bars addressing the upcoming MCs who are only “just abit hungry”.
“Fuck a meal I’ll make a banquet out of this buddy, you’re doing just enough to muster up a chip butty” – Mysdiggi
That attitude feeds into the rude club track Drama feat. Sparkz, Foreign Beggars & Dr Syntax. The flows had me feeling stupid and dancing like an uncle at the end of a wedding. Add that to the invincible flow of Fliptrix on Overly Fresh and you’ve got a gym playlist patterned up nicely.
Now once you’ve had that motivation instilled, you need to reconcile. Gather yourself with tracks that have the rhythm and the blues a musician feels in their core. Coops comes with the raw reality of police oppression on Criminalised. Syntax and Dubbul O drop perspectives whilst Harleighblu serenades on I Need That and just after Micall Parknsun & Verb T drop a similar vibe on Heard It Before. How We Living feat. Manik, Jazz T & Karl Sage is a particularly chest bouncing groove for the inner city blues. Then Confucius MC and Iyamah eloquently question all of this, on Wise Man.
Having “chickidy checked yoself”, Pitch comes with the lighter back end of the LP starting with Follow me feat. Doctor Outer, Sparkz & Marie Plassard. The second single, Kingdom feat. Layfullstop, Jehst, Sparkz, sounds like it was crafted from the golden embers of spoken word cyphers around campfires in late summer.
Sunshine soundscapes continue but it is DRS who truly brings the light. On Makes No Sense they address the insanity that is viral and social media. DRS drops out of flow to break down just how hatred gets spread across the internet. This is a gem not to be missed and provided this worked so well, I urge you to have a listen to DRS’s recent album From The Deep, produced entirely by Pitch 92 also.
Tyler Daley also brings a glimmer of hope for your modern day Confusion. They go full on Usher on this vibe. This beautiful tapestry, woven by Pitch with golden jazz guitar and dark purple pan-pipe sample tells a tale of a true player. One half of Children of Zeus, Daley serves up the chorus and a slick verse on this groove.
The intro and outro are the only instrumentals, transporting us in and out of Pitch’s 3rd Culture world. The outro, Ffm combines the flute and some sunset jungle ambience and it feels like Pitch is slowly letting us off this magic carpet ride. We’ve been brought a whole slice of life and toured the 3rd culture, but it’s the transcendent ending we need to return to our world.
Having joined the Mouse Outfit at the age of 17, Pitch’s world is a little different to everyone else’s. Having produced Escape Music and touring for ten years he made many friends along the way that have come full circle to work on this here album we have today.
He gives big credit to the OG, Jehst for his business advice and use of his Forest Hill based studio. But still wishes he’d put out the record sooner. But he’s a man of simple pleasures and will always be making beats to chill out so he’s not fussed.
Upon the release of this, he’ll be cracking a bottle of champers, but regardless, he looks onward to producing the next Verb T album and a KSR album also soon coming.