Lee Bannon- Fantastic Plastic
Plug Research Records, 16 tracks, Released 28th February 2012
Lee Bannon has crafted an album showcasing his ear as a cratedigger with an ear for near-perfect loops, always captivating with a deft touch in infusing the simplest of 2 bar repetitions with a raw, live energy. The sounds Bannon utilises in his beats offer a series of snapshots of what must be some seriously deep crates.
Film & TV dialogue, jazz, psych, funk and experimental electronic music read like the modern beatmakers’ daily sample diet. In the wrong hands the material here could sound tired and derivative of an older innovator of similar sound palettes (Madlib has been mentioned as a somewhat obvious but notable influence). However Bannon displays great sensitivity for his material whether densely layered & chopped, straightup looped or sometimes simply allowing a section of a song to play out and act as an interlude.
“The samples are seemingly roughly yet meticulously merged together with the care of a true record addict.”
The gift Bannon displays in abundance is his ability in selecting understated samples that speak for themselves. Whether or not a familiar jazz guitar riff sounds entirely recognisable, on Fantastic Plastic the sounds are rearranged within fresh compositions, importantly allowing the listener to hear everything in a new light. The samples are seemingly roughly yet meticulously merged together with the care of a true record addict. For these reasons alone, the Madlib mention is clearly warranted and will undoubtedly recur. Fantastic Plastic shares a certain spirit captured in many of Otis Jackson Jrs’ finest compositions and by all accounts, Bannon shares a similar reclusive nature to the notorious studio hermit.
The album also brings to mind other producer/MC albums from Dr Who Dat and Count Bass D.
Fantastic Plastic doesn’t neatly fit into the ever-growing instrumental genre now often labelled as Beats. There are a number of MCs on the album (Chuck English, Del Tha Funky Homosapien, M.E.D. & more…) that help consolidate it as a Hip Hop record.
Although it remains clear throughout 16 spaced out tracks (including many sub 2 minute beats) this is a record uninterested in being categorised. Sometimes the MC disappears part way through the beat, occasionally the beat stops midway through the track and trails into an interlude. Whether solo instrumentals or working with vocalists Bannon’s productions all share an effortlessly instinctive feel.
The featured rappers meld seamlessly with the instrumentals without ever overshadowing or obscuring Bannon’s overall vision. Del’s two appearances are reminders of his unmistakable voice and infectious flow. The quietly confident sample mastery doesn’t slip up for a second of the slight 33minute duration and the various guest features simply complement and consolidate an overall mood of a dark, dusty (possibly mushroom influenced…) beat journey.
Lorn Gnarlon (ft. Down Town James Brown)