In an age where artists have a hard time coming up with new material, where the wells of so many artists run dry, coming up with new ideas and avoiding mental blocks can be quite a challenge. When something new finally does come, it can (ideally) break the cycle imposed by big industry names.
Completely original musical exploits are few and far between, but they are out there. A surefire way to see this for yourself is to turn your attention to the wonderful world of hip hop. (What are you waiting for?). A State of Mind (ASM between friends), is a perfect place to start. This English trio comes out with incredibly original live performances, and they just never seem to run out of ideas.
Aside from their previous work (which has influences that range from funk, to trip hop to reggae) The DJ and 2 MCs that make up the band are constantly reaching out for new sources of inspiration, pushing the boundaries of many genres. Their latest album The Jade Amulet illustrates this perfectly, as it is not only a musical work of art but a visual one too. It’s so much more than just a rap disc with music videos… It tells a proper story.
The the album also comes with a comic book telling the story of Shalim, the main character, who is the bearer of a jade amulet and is searching for a mysterious oracle. It’s a richly imaginative universe which is a mixture of Asian legends, spaghetti westerns, and eastern culture, which is all tied together on an equally extraordinary soundtrack.
In the first extract of the album, which is to come out next October, The Funky Poet plays Shalim, who battles with the evil General Rongon (Mattic), whilst he faces the dilemma of whether or not go and help an old man whose village has been destroyed by the king’s army. And if that’s not epic enough as it is, Green-T joins in with the narration.
« Dilemma » is something to get excited about, given the work that they’ve put into the graphics as well as the music. The Black Knight Chamber Orchestra also helped out with the EP’s arrangement and composition, in collaboration with their producer Fade. The Jade Amulet Tour, planned for this Autumn, looks to be pretty Dantesque!!