Release Date: Jul 14, 2017
Record label: Downtown
Genre(s): Electronic, Club/Dance
Overflowing with all-star guests, Mura Masa welcomes his closest and coolest friends, a lifelong hero and emerging talents on his ambitious debut album. The Guernsey-born producer's bedroom beats have infiltrated the charts and festivals over the last 12 months: hence the 21-year-old's ability to curate such an impressive cast of collaborators on this genre-hopping collection full of future hits. From the energetic, A$AP Rocky-aided 'Love$ick Fuck' and Desiigner-featuring trap anthem 'All Around The World' to the glitchy electronic romance of 'Second 2 None', which includes a heartfelt vocal from Christine And The Queens' Héloïse Letissier, it's a dizzying exploration of musical subcultures.
M uch like Disclosure did four years ago, Guernsey producer Alex Crossan has assembled a debut record that is brimming with nowness. Swapping the Lawrence brothers' house-garage hybrid for the dancehall-lite tones of its slightly problematic relative tropical house - and sourcing guest vocals from A$AP Rocky, Desiigner, Charli XCX, Christine and the Queens and more - he has made an album that runs the gamut from unpleasantly basic to brilliantly clever, often in the same song. While "trop house" provides a grindingly ubiquitous framework, the stream of endearing quirks - from Bonzai's jarringly glottal vocal on Nuggets and the Orange Juice-esque synth break in Messy Love to Helpline's punk drum intro and the Bon Iver-aping interlude Give Me the Ground - means Mura Masa manages to miraculously transcend its generic core.
Mura Masa is more like Calvin Harris than he'd prefer to admit. Speaking to NME earlier this summer, the 21-year-old producer - real name Alex Crossan - refuted the idea that he's poised to usurp Harris as one of dance's big cheeses. "I guess from the outside looking in, it does look like that, but not really," he said. But the comparison fits.
Posters started appeared all over the globe in each of his collaborators' home towns to announce the release of Mura Masa, his debut album. From Desiigner 's Brooklyn, to Christine & The Queens' Nantes, right down to Mura Masa 's St Peter Port, it was an exciting way to show off the breadth of guests that appear. This wide array of names, an impressive feat for a debut album, bring their own particular styles and fuses it with Mura Masa's signature sound.
Oscar Wilde once said, "The man who can dominate a London dinner table can dominate the world." No wonder: A fast-paced haven for people of all nationalities, races, and faiths, the city itself is a kind of conversation between the four corners of the earth. Newly arriving to the metropolis can be a welcome assault to the senses, one that's both confusing and exhilarating. For a young producer like Mura Masa (aka Alex Crossan), sponging up London's global flavors and subcultures is part and parcel of the creative process.
Following the 2014 mixtape Soundtrack to a Death and numerous singles, including a few viral hits, British producer Mura Masa (Alex Crossan) released his self-titled debut album in 2017, when he was all of 21 years old. The release already seems like a virtual greatest-hits compendium, with numerous singles dating back to 2015 included, and it's loaded with guest stars -- everyone from A$AP Rocky to Jamie Lidell to Damon Albarn make appearances. Musically, Crossan's work is a mix of various "future" styles (bass music, trap, house, etc.), and he often combines light, sunny, island-like tones with lovesick, melancholy themes.
Quite the opposite for the SoundCloud producer. While the site is itself a proving ground, what is being proven and by whom remains rather nebulous; a label deal (i.e., the path toward release of an album proper) brings with it a formalized set of strategies and structural cues (from sequencing to lead single selection) that are plainly antithetical to the way in which so many found an audience on SoundCloud. It’s a world in which the listener’s default stance is assumed to be suspicion, rather than curiosity.
Despite his relative youth, and the fact that this is his full-length debut, Mura Masa has already developed an instantly recognisable sound, which presents itself a matter of seconds into the opening track 'Messy Love'. This clear sonic identity, however, does not result in repetitiveness or predictability. Every track on his self-titled debut draws from a broad palette of styles without ever being derivative; whether that's the obvious Prince influence on 'Nothing Else' or the more subtle Eski click sounds and jungle snare-rolls on 'Second 2 None'.