Barely Breaking Even
Crack open a cold one and start practising your sexy-time dance, Katalyst's third album is full of relaxed hip hop tunes just in time for the summer festival season, road trippin' and sunny afternoons.
Deep Impressions follows on from the Sydney DJ / producer's acclaimed 2007 What's Happening. It's a solid fusion of the sounds that have made a deep impression on Katalyst (real name Ashley Anderson): soul, funk, jazz, dub step, reggae, electronic, even hints of disco and psychedelia. This is hip hop, but with a big salute to classic roots.
The sultry crooning of Stephanie McKay "mmm-mmming" opens over a soulful reggae beat on Day Into Night, the first single.
Things pick up with the disco beat of Pot or Pills. It's tongue-in-cheek as a voice over in the style of a public service announcement informs us: "many people have smoked marijuana, many have seen marijuana, but very few people have ever heard marijuana". Well welcome to the sound of marijuana! Nothing describes Deep Impressions more accurately: it's fun, playful, light, fleeting and forgettable. The Clapping Song is as expected- pop and catchy. The funky bassline on Beware is deep and danceable in way that's almost dark and sinister as it creeps up over you.
Katalyst's background in producing is clear, his sampling is spot-on. It's the collaborations that really shine through and impress here: Stephanie McKay, Mr. Clean, KweenG (of the KillaQueenz), Coin Locker Kid, Jade Macrae, Buff 1, Bootie Brown, Steve Spacek, Hau (of Koolism). Katalyst is clearly a well-connected dude, who's maybe at his best when he's showcasing other's talent.
Ending with the second single Ready to Drop, is a bit disappointing- it's certainly not one of the album's high points. It tries for a tribute to early 80s westcoast but falls short as an uninventive throwback. KweenG's rapping is hard-hitting but it's laid over a lack-lustre rhythm. The synth melody sounds like a ringtone I made on my Nokia 3310 not something from one of Australia's best producers.
Katalyst has been described as somewhere between Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings and Gnarls Barkley; throw in some soul sampling and classic Aussie hip hop and you've got Deep Impressions. It's a solid effort as far as chilled out and upbeat hip hop songs go, but nothing quite matches the powerful highs of the hit single Say What You Feel from his 2007 album What's Happening. Perfect for casual summer rotation.
01. Day Into Night feat. Stephanie McKay
02. Black Dragon feat. Mr Clean
03. Pot or Pills
04. Ready To Drop feat. KweenG
05. Clapping Song feat. Coin Locker Kid
07. Prince of Cool feat. Jade Macrae
08. It’s a Blast
09. U Can’t Save Me feat. Buff 1 & Stephanie McKay
10. Number 1
11. The Popcorns feat. Bootie Brown & Steve Spacek
12. Who’s Doing It
13. Time Ticks On feat. Hau
14. Dreaming Of You