By Jacob Zimmer
We love: Tracks 6, 9, & 14
For fans of: Cashmere Cat, Rustie, & Nujabes
Producer & songwriter, Alex Crossan (Mura Masa) may have just released one of the year’s best hip-hop and electronic albums with his debut, “Soundtrack to a Death”… and he’s only 18 years old. From his seaside home in Sussex, England Mura Masa has quietly bloomed across SoundCloud this year with his remixes of popular hip-hop top 40 hits and soul-sampling original production, but if you’ve yet to be introduced, this masterpiece is where you should start.
Mura Masa creates both intimate and deep soundscapes with his light piano and guitar flowing quickly over kicks and snares backed by deep, rolling bass. Citing influences of both hip-hop and anime culture, he includes flutes, mandolins, and eastern oriental instruments alongside tight percussion (his syncopated snaps sound like Jake One’s infamous woodblock) and pitched vocal samples. He’ll often crowd a bar with riding cymbals or reverb before breaking through the build of noise with a short kick that acts as a soft punch to clear through and bring us back to a beat that rumbles the room and flows through your bones.
The soothing mood he sets is complimented by filling space in the music with white noise like quiet FM static or birds chirping. Sometimes it sounds like the music isn’t from this time or place - like whoever made it was resting in a forest glade in 15th century Kyoto – but pitch-bending that sounds like it’s influenced by Cashmere Cat, bed squeaks straight out of a Jersey Club sample pack, and drum breaks that sound like Nujabes remind us that STAD is very much a product of the 21st century.
As Mura Masa prepares for his performance debut in Brighton tonight, I can’t wait to see how this album plays out with live instrumentation. There isn’t a question of whether or not you should buy this album- the question is whether you spring the extra €8 to get it on vinyl or not. You can stream and purchase Soundtrack to a Death below via Bandcamp or purchase it on iTunes. Follow Mura Masa on SoundCloud.