Chronicle album: Mura Masa

Alexander Crossan, a native of Guernsey, a small island lost in the English Channel and a tax haven dependent on the British Crown although geographically much closer to Flamanville than to Kensington, became known in 2017 under the pseudonym of Mura Masa. Then barely twenty-one years old, he released a first eponymous album carried by two planetary hits, including Love$ick (feat. A$ap Rocky), broadcast since in the DJ sets of Ibiza, the G20 of La Grande-Motte and the summer universities of the chamber of notaries of La Roche-sur-Yon. A precocious talent, as eager for sound research as a natural hitmaker, the young producer found himself somewhat borrowed on his second album. RYC and failed, with one or two exceptions, to reach the heights, creative or commercial, of its first opus. On demon time, he decided to draw inspiration from his glorious predecessors Timbaland and The Neptunes who, more than twenty years ago, had decided to abolish the barriers between the avant-garde and the general public. His third album will therefore be as creative as it is recreational, not worrying about good taste and inventing its own flavors.

An attentive listener of current musical scenes as much as a sound magician, Mura Masa reviews almost all modern pop on demon time. A question will however not cease to torment us throughout the listening of these eleven titles, is Mura Massa a revolutionary producer shaping the sound of his time or a simple opportunist appropriating all the musical styles in vogue? Brilliant and crafty, this album is by turns, so we’ll let the listener make up his own mind. I already see a few loyal readers bleeding from their ears listening to two or three songs that wouldn’t have made a mark in Charly and Lulu’s Hit Machine, on Saturday, in the company of a crazy audience. We are thus forced to note that if certain titles are of a dazzling formal inventiveness, others wallow in the mainstream mainstream.

Evolving in a universe where the concept of musical genre seems as outdated as a Republican voter’s card or a Kasabian album, we will nevertheless try to identify the main guidelines borrowed by Musa Musa on demon time. Although infusing much of the album, it’s on the title track demon time and slowmo that Hyperpop cursors are pushed to the limit, a style cherished as much by young TikTokeurs as by hipsters in search of thrills, which Wikipedia defines as “a musical micro-genre from EDM and traditional pop that inspired by emo, hip-hop and lo-fi, placing itself at the interstice of mainstream music and highbrow music”. Clearly influenced by AG Cook and his PC Music stable as well as by the little foufous of 100 gecs, Mura Masa emerges with flying colors from this perilous exercise which sometimes quickly sinks into parody.

We were waiting to see what the English could take from mainstream pop, a Dua Lipa trend to schematize, hoping that it could pervert these standardized consumer products and breathe a light wind of subversion at the top of the charts. Yet this is where Mura Masa disappoints the most. While most of the other titles benefit from at least a researched and innovative production, the most popular songs seem to be made on autopilot, without any originality or roughness as on the horrifying prada and blushwhich looks like it comes from a bad David Guetta, or on the very dispensable e-motions where he draws nothing from the voice, however usually sublime, of Erika de Casier. The only exception to the rule is called 2tegher. Appearing a little smooth and inoffensive, the piece carried by the androgynous vocals of Gretel Hänlyn is gradually contaminated by finds of electro productions and arrangements and finally turns out to be one of the peaks of the album.

More at ease with bangers than bluettes pop, Mura Masa breaks the house when he ventures on the side of rap. The sweet sonorities of blessing me carried by the nonchalant flow of Pa Salieu will make you gently shake your head, before Slowthai comes to bang it wildly against the walls on up all week where his priceless verve is sublimated by a production as minimal as it is aggressive. These two songs would undoubtedly find a place of choice on most Anglo-Saxon hip-hop blockbuster albums. If the above definition of Hyperpop seems to suit Mura Masa perfectly, he seems to flourish even more fully on these hip-pop productions.

Surfing on the electro-Latin wave, Mura Masa does not hesitate to rush into it with tonto on which he invites Isabella Lovestory, a sort of Rosalia from Wish and even borrows from the title Saoko from the same Rosalia the idea of ​​the jazz sample in the middle of a dance piece on hollaback bitch. Although the copy is clean, the student Alex will be reminded that it is always wrong to pump on his classmate!

More than an album, demon time, looks like a compilation of singles in various styles, some of which would sit proudly in the “record store favourite” section and others would be immediately relegated to the sales bin. However, isn’t it rather our vision of old purists, in love with the concept of the album, which is undermined here so much Mura Masa seems to be fully blowing the wind of his time, where we produce above all “sounds” for streaming platforms and videos for Youtube. A hedonistic laboratory worker and Stakhanovist dilettante, Mura Masa amazes as much as he annoys and if listening to a single demon time may seem indigestible, you will enjoy coming here and there to peck at a few delicacies according to your mood and the time of day.

Chronicle album: Mura Masa – demon time