Express Yourself EP
Released: Monday 6 August 2012
Having more or less managed to walk the tightrope between cred artist and producer to the biggest names in music, Diplo is back with a release of his own. This six-track EP is a pretty compelling argument for why he continues to be in demand with acts as diverse as Bjork, Beyonce, MIA, Azealia Banks and Nicola Roberts.
As the title may tip you off, Express Yourself is a party record - manically so, in fact. The opening and title track is an unhinged, barely coherent yet somehow tight as fuck 'banger' constructed from jack-hammer beats, hyperventilating squiggles and rapper Nicky Da B's rapid-fire exhortations. Apparently, this is a genre called New Orleans bounce. Being a fan of HBO series Treme, I thought jazz was the only music to be heard in that city. But whatever this is, I like it and I want to hear more.
Almost before 'Express Yourself's final implosion, 'Barely Standing' bursts out of the speakers. It may tip its hat to the current US vogue for 'brostep' and brainless dancefloor fillers, but for my money it's probably the strongest track on the EP - a full-force, in-your-face party anthem to comprehensively lose your shit to. Who doesn't need that sometimes?
'No Problem', which follows, is similar but moodier and more complex, mixing dubstep with 90s dance sounds like a steriod-pumped version of Disclosure. Or, if we're being critical, Disclosure with the subtlety sandpapered off. But I'm not in the mood to be critical with music this abrasive and uncompromising. I just want it to blast my eardrums and it does the job nicely.
'Move Around' employs dub atmospherics, dancehall rhythms, live drums and juddering breakdowns to queasy effect. You wouldn't move much to this unless you were seriously refreshed, which means it's perfect festival music. 'Butters Theme' is apparently an example of moombahton, another genre I'm not going to pretend to know much about, accept to say that if this blindingly fierce, squelchy, sexy track is a representative example, I will have to get my music geek investigative hat on and dig out some more.
Final track 'Set It Off', featuring the fantastically titled Lazerdisk Party Sex, is a fraction more mellow, in that it sounds like a swarm of angry wasps flooding your head rather than a chainsaw wielded by a helium-inflated Nicki Minaj. It's the only track on here which feels less than fully realised.
Diplo has collaborated with other producers and artists on these tracks, so we maybe shouldn't give him all the credit. But the fact remains that this is a relentlessly ferocious collection, very probably the party release of the year.