Review: Edward Scissortongue – ‘Theremin EP
Edward Scissortongue ‘Theremin’ EP is the latest release from High Focus, a label that has become, in a relatively short space of time, a powerhouse of the UK scene with a strong roster of producers and emcees.
Scissortongue first appeared on the radar as a member of the Contact Play crew but it was only fairly recently that he began to make his mark as a solo artist, with the arrival of his debut album ‘Better Luck Next Life’ in 2012. It was met with widespread critical acclaim and spawned the epic posse cut ‘Coma’, one of few tunes to feature the entire CP line-up (peep the equally epic video, highlights including the infamous “beard slap”).
With ‘Theremin’ Ed has created an EP which, lyrically, is serious and cerebral in a way that sets it apart from many other HF releases. In addition, Ed does his thing on production which is more electronica-influenced than the sound I associate with HF but which seems to suit his own personal vision down to a tee. The opening instrumental ‘Take Readings’ sets the tone perfectly, sounding like the sort of music you might hear in a Japanese tea garden, only one aboard some sort of space colony several light years away.
My personal highlights are ‘The Calculator’ and ‘The Wipeout Soundtrack’. The former is the lead single and has a more euphoric quality to the production than the rest of the EP, bringing a welcome lift to proceedings. On ‘Wipeout’, Ed’s bars are given a new intensity as he rides a minimalist double-time shuffle, enhanced by a haunting chorus from vocalist Toyface and an unexpected tempo change.
The title track is also very gripping, with Ed exhibiting his storytelling skills over a more traditional boom bap beat, driven by an eerie violin sample. Whilst still on-point lyrically, ‘Teeth’ and ‘Theremin Pt II’ don’t hold my attention in the same way as the production is a little too slow and moody for my tastes.
Much like his contemporaries Mowgli and Jam Baxter, Scissortongue delivers dense, imagery-laden bars that often require multiple plays to fully digest. If you like your rap music dark and descriptive then ‘Theremin’ is for you, and will whet fans’ appetites nicely until the release of ‘Laminated Cakes’ (a collaborative LP with Baxter & Ghosttown) and, of course, Ed’s sophomore solo LP.