tue 04/08/2020

CD: Benga - Chapter II | reviews, news & interviews

CD: Benga - Chapter II

CD: Benga - Chapter II

Leading light of bass-led electronic sounds, underground and overground reaches a crossroads

Benga, tearing all reference to 'the d word' from his book collection

Benga is at a crossroads. Like many who arose from the dubstep scene, the 26-year-old is finding the term an albatross that’s hard to throw off. Sure, he was one of the Croydon originators of a sound that now dominates Transatlantic pop, a sound which is the basis for his national radio show and his band, Magnetic Man, but the term has become restrictive, too often tired shorthand for a lack of imagination among his lesser peers. The new album, then, is called Chapter II, although it’s his third, presumably to emphasize that we’re witnessing a rapid and drastic evolution.

The truth is it’s no quantum leap forward. The sound that any teenager would, without a second thought, call “dubstep”, whether Benga likes it or not, is all over the album. With his production on Katy B’s “Katy on a Mission” in 2010, one of the catchiest dance-pop tunes in recent memory, Benga proved he could nail ear-worm chart-smashing club euphoria, and half the album sees him collaborating with guests on the mic aiming for similar. Most directly equivalent is the breakbeat rave-pop fun of “Higher”, featuring Autumn Rowe. Other successes include the shouty “Smile” featuring Charlie XCX, the Prodigy-esque “High Speed” with P Money, and the single "Forefather" with rapper Kano, but they’re tempered by breathy filler such as “Choose” and the dreadful “Warzone”.

Happily, Benga throws down plenty of instrumental bangers, accessible but potent, with flavours running the gamut from the predictable but entertaining wob-wob-wob of “To Hell and Back” to the opening “Yellow”, which bleepily recalls Herbie Hancock and early hip hop. There’s more than enough of this kind of fare to make Chapter II well worth investigating. Listening to the fantastic, squeaky-synth laced slow-roller, “Running”, for instance, you might wonder if Benga has found his path out of tedious genre semantics after all.

Watch the video for "Forefather" with Kano

It's called Chapter II, although it’s his third album, presumably to emphasize that we’re witnessing a rapid and drastic evolution

rating

Editor Rating: 
3
Average: 3 (1 vote)

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