Sunset Review :: AraabMuzik – ‘For Professional Use Only’
March 15th 2013
As electronic music has taken over America and tightened its hold on the rest of the world, we’ve seen festival main stages flooded with DJs and producers. Of course any change in the world makes people go into an unreasonably intense state of panic, but some valid points are raised too. Firstly, many feel that the non-existent stage presence of a DJ/producer staring at their decks and/or laptop just isn’t good enough for a festival mainstage, with or without extravagant stage production. However, DJs that let their laptops take care of the show while they jump around and throw cakes at people are often written off as talentless sellouts.
So, short of getting a complicated ‘band’ setup onstage, where is the sweet spot? If you ask AraabMuzik, looking backwards is the key.
AraabMuzik has revived an icon in music production technology – the MPC – while unwittingly providing the perfect balance between technical skill and entertainment along the way. Triggering every sample live provides a rare performance of electronic music. One that is visually impressive and entertaining without being excessively expensive. Point a camera at those manic fingers, chuck a hype man out the front, and that’s a show worthy of any main stage.
In the studio, the MPC is at the centre of AraabMuzik’s arsenal too. In ‘So Good’ he lays down some slightly off-beat percussion, with the dreamy glint of a mark tree sprinkling itself over the situation. Clean, jazzy bass guitar notes and a yearning vocal sample repeat themselves at the MPC-wielder’s will, while soothing strings weave a web around the higgeldy piggeldy orchestra. He also punches out some dubstep, and later references the southern trap sound in ‘Getting 2 The Point’. Huge kicks pump under raucous, aggressive synths and (as The Gaslamp Killer once put it) “sprinkler system hi-hats”.
Being a mixtape, For Professional Use Onlycontains many extended slices of other people’s work. However, when a track like ‘Never Have To Worry’ comes up, it’s hard not to squirm . The track is basically Phear Phace‘s track ‘You Don’t Have To Worry’ with some more drums dropped on top. It’s a personal gripe of mine when credit isn’t given for such obvious use of a sample, but that’s more a criticism of mixtape culture rather than AraabMuzik himself. Incidentally, Phear Phace’s track samples a vocal line also heard in Flume‘s remix of Hermitude‘s HyperParadise.
AraabMuzik’s ‘back to basics’ performance style brings forth the same arguments that erupt whenever vinyl DJs encounter laptop DJs. That is, whether using traditional analogue equipment means that the end product is more genuine and of a higher quality, or whether it’s an unnecessary, nostalgic gimmick. The reality is that recording music straight from an MPC gives the final product a much more live sound as far as sampling goes. It’s so easy to get bogged down in the tiny details when using modern production software, but For Professional Use Only was likely performed live and immediately sent away to be mixed and mastered. While the final product mightn’t be as slick as something made in Ableton Live, the chopped up beats make it possible to imagine AraabMuzik bashing away at his MPC, piecing each sample together in the moment. This adds an unexpected layer of flavour to the listening experience of For Professional Use Only, and furthermore proves that AraabMuzik’s performance style is anything but gimmicky.
If you want to hear some truly hand-crafted beats, click on over here and download the whole of AraabMuzik’s For Professional Use Only mixtape for F.R.E.E.