Mark Rae - Into The Depths

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(Grand Central/Inertia)

The solo journey of Mark Rae continues with his second album Into The Depths. Since former collaborating partner Steve Christian decided to call it quits, Rae has been as busy as ever ensuring the continued success of his label Grand Central whilst also moving forward as a solo artist. It’s not strictly a solo affair however, with the album being steered by Rae as a host of collaborators help to actually make it work. Production and song writing duties are shared with Rhys Adams and Lance Thomas (both also helping out in guitar, bass and keyboard duties), whilst Rae once again teams up with vocalists Pete Simpson, Veba and Kwasi Asante; as well as jumping on vocal duties himself.

After the 40-second introductory track Into The Depths (mysteriously listed in the bio as a focus track for the album) things kick off properly with Mind, Body And Soul; an easy blend of laid back and funky hip hop. Without You Now is the first of the Veba collaborations, her soulful voice sitting beautifully over acoustic guitar rhythms of Thomas and quirky keyboard jitters of Adams. Medicine is the closest the album leans to r’n’b, exploring the true rhythm and blues roots with it’s soul laden vocals and intermittent horn blasts and leaving you convinced at the end of the track that you really must take your medicine! Reach Out To Me also lends an ear to soulful roots, the piano sounding keyboard riff coupled with vocals from Veba give it a hip-hop/gospel feel.

It’s not all funky and soulful and Rae proves his ability to explore a range of emotions over the course of the album. In what seems a cross between 80s electro and downbeat hip-hop, Rise Up takes on a more sublime feel. A highlight of the album is Depth Charge, a track that is almost a duel between the percussive guitar playing and the rhythms of the broken beats.

Whilst renown as a DJ for being able to shake a dancefloor sideways with an infectious groove and ear for a good tune, with Into The Depths Rae proves that his musical explorations are far wider when it comes to his own production work. The more song based structure and live instrumentation ad a degree of warmth to the album whilst still retaining a bit of funkiness. It will appeal to hip hp fans after something a little more downbeat, making a great album to have on around the house.

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