Review Summary: A destined marriage of old and new...
Some ideas are so novel, so original, so good
, that given the correct amount of effort and expertise, cannot fail. In music this concept can be described the proverbial holy grail some artists strive for yet few rarely achieve. Hip-hop artist L’Orange harbors one such idea and with The Mad Writer
displays a ton of potential for his sound while simultaneously showing his expertise as a producer.
The Mad Writer
is essentially an instrumental hip-hop record with light jazzy influences, but where L’Orange struck gold is with his theme. Every song is infused with a 1940’s-1950’s era feel. Spoken word samples from the era are utilized throughout the record which provides an insanely fresh take on the genre (as contradictory as that may seem). While used freely, these samples never seem contrived nor do they seem out of place. This seamless feel can be chalked up to the propensity L’Orange has in his production skills by creating such a convincing hybrid of hip-hop instrumentals with olden-style undertones. The entire record isn’t instrumental however as there are some smartly used guest appearances. A great example comes in the song “Femme Fatale” which features Erica Lane matching the noir-esque tone of the music perfectly with her low, controlled alto very much akin to someone like Amy Winehouse.
This noir-esque feel of the song is one of the many employed by L’Orange throughout the record. The Mad Writer
seeks to enthrall you not by the execution of the music but by the ambiance it creates. The nuances used like the lo-fi quality of the samples, the glitchy electronics, to the the subtle fuzz and scratchy sounds all contribute in providing an authentic feeling of the 40’s and 50’s, no matter how skewed our vision of it may be. Soft drums and even softer piano ebb and flow through each song and does a fantastic job of added further emotion to the record. Many songs have this added emotion to it in combination with the overlying theme. Underlying feelings of sadness, joy, and eeriness permeate the small cracks of the record which considering the simplistic style of the instruments is frankly surprising to say the least. If one thing is wrong with the record it would be the simplistic instrumentation. The drum beat in the songs that utilize them are all interchangeable and frankly boring if one listens to them closely. There is a distinct lack of actual stand out tracks as the songs display little in terms of overt variety.
This marriage of the 40’s and 50’s era mood with hip-hop sensibilities and instrumentation is a brilliant idea and feels nothing short of natural. The Mad Writer
definitely doesn’t acquiesce to everyone’s taste and suffers from a lack of musical prowess but for those curious enough to take a distorted trip back in time will find something truly special here.