Why Manchester is the new creative epicentre of neo-soul and hip-hop
It’s hard to know where to begin to describe the latest project from MC Mowgli. “Feel the weight of the thought,” he urges on the new track, Choose – “choose a rhythm, collision…choose a series of theories” he continues, his relentless, irrepressible drone warming to the theme. There’s almost too much to take in, as the track darts between the familiar but skewed plinks and plonks of Mount Kimbie’s production, the heavy insistence of the “inconsistently invincible” throb of Mowgli’s language and the distant groan of the beat. Add to this some starkly blank and fragile press art and eerie, wilfully obscure footage, and you have an idea of what ‘Mont.Alk’, Mowgli’s brand new offering, looks and sounds like. Or at least, you have the beginning of an idea.
The principle behind the project seems simple enough – Mowgli is paying tribute to his favourite producers by laying lyrics down over warped versions of the best tracks from their 2010 album ‘Crooks & Lovers’ – but in reality, it’s a sprawling creature, heaving with significance and with sheer power, and a long way away from his searing 2010 debut ‘93’. “Won’t change, don’t want to,” Mowgli’s deadpan – and yet somehow fiercely emotive – delivery stresses as Choose peters out. It’s not quite true – he’s staunchly faithful to his own creative impulses, and clearly a complete original, but he is changing, constantly and colourfully. That’s what makes ‘Mont.Alk’ so worth exploring; it’s many things at once, a greedy and curious exploration of influence and re-appropriation, and no matter how many times you listen through, there will be something to surprise you each time.
I asked Mowgli some questions earlier this month about his experience of putting the project together, the thoughts behind it and how he hopes it will be received. Scroll down to read what he had to say, and in the meantime, stream the ‘Mont.Alk’ tracks here.
Hi, Mowgli! Could you introduce yourself and your project to Dummy readers?
Student. Soon Probationer. Then Adept.
At best only a 7.5e-11% chance I should exist.
I recently remembered being part of something and chose to document some of the thoughts I had at the time.
It is possibly one of the most important somethings there ever has been.
How was the ‘Mont.Alk’ project conceived?
I visited New York, went to the coast and was swimming by a big old Sage antenna station when it struck me. The dish operated between 425-450 mhz. It was conceived before that, but I wasn’t involved at that stage. I only recently remember being there, I lost the memories for a while.
Mowgli – Cadence
What were you hoping to explore with ‘Mont.Alk’, and did that vision change as you worked on it?
It became about time in general. To start with it was focused on consciousness. This was all a while back. I now know people with time machines in their front room. Like rebel offshoots.
The audio project was an attempt to document brief moments of what was realised.
I worked with artist Jason Kerley about some of the experiences we had and that created the imagery you see on the site and in the prints. They are almost like looking into the worlds we saw.
Why Mount Kimbie?
They are from the future. So am I. I know that now.
What was the process of writing like – how long did it take you, and did you compose the whole thing aurally?
My composition process is fairly bizarre. There are a few staples. It generally involves five or six different custom made machines/psychotronic devices, research chemicals and many calculations, open books, a special chair, means of recording other entities and other things I cannot speak of. I will not write unless everything is lined up. I didn’t really ‘write’ any of the words in it though, they were given to me in short bursts whilst travelling. I captured these and tried to remember them in fragments.
Have you been in contact with Mount Kimbie and had any feedback from them on the project? What did they say?
I won’t fully comment. But as far as I am aware they have heard two tracks and really liked them. This was a while ago. I wrote those two shortly after their original release.
I really love the visceral play on language that dominates this project. How much did hip hop influence your composition, and what other influences did you draw on?
Thank you. I use words too much though. I’m going to regress back to only making noises and tones.
It watched me getting changed through a peephole like a dirty old man. I tried to ignore it, but there was probably a part of me that remained in view on purpose.
“I only take direct influence from non-humans superior to myself. They have shown me things I cannot describe in words. Language separates divinity from self.” – Mowgli
I am a sound artist. In that I am learning how the world is sound. This typing is sound. My thinking about the answer is sound. My mind is sound. The only influence there ever can be will communicate itself through sound. And that influence will be sound.
I only take direct influence from non-humans superior to myself. They have shown me things I cannot describe in words. Language separates divinity from self.
What would you like to achieve with ‘Mont.Alk’?
As a stepping stone into future material where we will combine sound, esoteric technology and consciousness like nothing you have ever witnessed. Ear lube. Already, when played back at a certain speed in the right conditions, certain oddities can occur with these recordings. It was an experiment. When played back through a specific system we are developing you can influence the recording yourself. I cannot explain more on that.
What’s next for you? Will you be making another hip hop record?
I will be pioneering the genres of Witch House Sabbath, Post Grime, Chaffinch, BDSM Jazz and Dimitri step and others, they are probably in the same building as hip-hop perhaps behind the slide- away bookshelf by the old water dispenser next to the janitor’s cupboard, or existing on an alternate timeline in the same place. I will make lots of records. Promise. I will leave a dotted line and biro on a little chain where the genre box is. Everyone can draw what they feel, the patterns shall be combined
into a sigil that will be mapped on a tortoise’s back, translated into numbers and that’s what it shall be named. Crowd participation. I love you. 93’z.
“I will be pioneering the genres of Witch House Sabbath, Post Grime, Chaffinch, BDSM Jazz and Dimitri step and others” – Mowgli
There is something coming following this very soon after. That is all I am at liberty to say. It’s deep. We cracked one of the great mysteries of our time, or rather rediscovered it. There is a child. You will see. There are other things following that. That is all I am allowed to say about those. There is also a journey we will fully document for you in the event I do not return. Keep a look out at my website for announcements.
There is an unprecedented audio-visual set with Ketamine Camera that is being created/is ready to go in some form that I highly recommend you take time out of your important schedules to witness.
Big up Dummy Mag!