Muph + Plutonic Lab - Hunger Pains
Wed 27th Oct, 2004 Music Reviewsin
I had been eagerly awaiting this release since I first heard it was on its way, although not a certified member of the Muph fan club, I had it on many authorities that this was a significant improvement on his lyricism and would be an impressive display of composition and production from Plutonic Lab. The authorities spoke the truth yet it was not as much an improvement as I had hoped for and was still left seeking More than Muph’s music.
One of my biggest problems with More than Music was the staccato nature of the flows and also the more spoken word approach to lyricism than typical rhymes, although I appreciate that Muph is far from an A-typical rapper it was something that I just couldn’t get past. The first thing I noticed about Hunger Pains is the improved nature of delivery and superior flow of the lyrics, everything seems to roll off the tongue a lot more on this album. I was also impressed to see Muph try his hand at a more technical, dnb tempo of delivery on parts of Work Hard and John Chapman Swing.
My other problem with his debut LP was the introspective nature of his lyrics, whilst I admired the honesty and heart he was able to insert into his song writing I found it a little tedious and sometimes sooky to hear about his experiences and problems. He came off a little depressing at times and tended to be a bit of a crooner, although he still continues with this introspective approach on tracks like Raise Ya Voice and Moment of Clarity he tends to be more objective than subjective and sets them off with some more funky, optimistic tracks throughout the album.
The Jason Chapman Swing was the most surprising and left field track on the album, the beat to me draws from the drumlines and beats of Drum n Bass/Garage which has forced Muph to rhyme at a far more technical and rapid rate, it also employs the use of some rolling, high end synths which I find similar to the likes of LTJ Bukems type chill’n’bass production.
Equally surprising was the idea of a Muph/Minas collaboration on Scars and Stains, yet with the upfront and personal release from Art of War it is easier to see them now on a similar level. The track is introspective without being whingy or sooky and both emcee’s hold their own. Not a combination I would have picked but a successful one no less. Production is faultless in this track.
The more upbeat tracks are the ones I enjoyed the most, I think the combination of more funk/soul orientated beats with some more aggressive, fun lyricism was exactly what was needed to balance out some of the more gloomy and sombre cuts that make up the majority of the album. Heaps Good to me would be the standout, I would expect that media, particularly radio, will pick this up in a second, they would be stupid not to. My only qualm with this track is that he uses the line ‘Rock it like Rebecca Demornay’ when Charli 2na from Jurassic 5 dropped ‘I cradle rock the mic like Rebecca Demornay’, nitpicking I know, it’s just an unfortunate coincidence.
Not so upbeat but equally striking is Beer Goggles which is a story track describing the detrimental effects of alcohol on perception when picking up. It sees a much more raw side of Muph and a much more satirical which I personally really liked, it’s a lot more similar to Bruise that Ego from the Culture of Kings compilation than anything off More than Music but is much darker both in beats and lyrics. Plutonic shines in terms of sampling and arrangement and has attributed an almost Quentin Tarrantino like feel to the production.
Hunger Pains with Raph Boogie is a good track yet it doesn’t maintain my attention, nor did Becoming Agrophobic or Paracetamol. I think this was more to do with the relaxed nature of the production of the actual rhymes, these tracks tended to blend in a little too much for my liking. Your Choice is also a great track but it was a little too laid back for me, it would be nice just to relax to in the sun.
Plutonic Lab is one of the most amazing producers I have ever come across, he is a true musician, clearly understanding the theoretical side of music and making some of the most diverse and interesting yet still audible beats so far. It’s great to see Australia stepping up to the plate in terms of production and Plutonic Lab is most definitely at the forefront. Muph, although I’m not the biggest fan of his subjects, has evolved tenfold in terms of lyricism. His inclusion of some more light-hearted and satirical rhymes impressed me as did his less spoken word approach to delivery.
Overall a very musically diverse album that, whether you like or not, delivers more substance than the average hip hop cut and forces a little more thinking than the rest.