The anomaly in the High Focus box of crackerjacks makes the ever-accelerating UK imprint as savvy as it is consistent and loud. Ed Scissor and Lamplighter are the solemn servants savouring the bitter chill of lost hip-hop, championing the outsider, huddling around a waning fire while hearts pull downwards.
Scissor’s continued withdrawal from when he was Edward Scissortongue on ‘Better.Luck.Next.Life’ (though Mr Scissortongue is still summoned on ‘AFK’), is a mixture of prophet, maverick bard and disaffected post-fallout statistic, seen through eyes that are either bloodshot or receiving the Clockwork Orange treatment. Unnervingly soothing, he posts an eloquence of wordplay and observation, poetic without making a coffee shop slam out of it.
Lamplighter’s slow burning folk with a concealed barb and electronic frequencies collected from off course satellites, keeps vigils by candlelight and reads last rites in a spirited gloom. The conducting of instruments with key changes in all the right places, is equal parts sonorous and austere. The mediums of cold shoulders, withering looks and silent treatments are damaging weapons, and the acoustic plucks of the producer on the title track and ‘Dust Don’t Lay’ deadpan as much as the emcee.
Where a lot will be made of the album’s perceived negativity and wallowing measured from ‘Chavassian Striking Distance’, the expressionless conveyance makes the performance weirdly more versatile. It can be all things for all people: from a live aspect, you can reasonably imagine words being sung back to the protagonists as much as the audience stays rapt. In a parallel universe fusing Ghostpoet, Atmosphere, Scroobius Pip and Maxi Jazz (and other acts like 2econd Class Citizen/FBCFabric & Reindeer), any questions as to whether the pair are missing the High Focus point of rowdy hip-hop need to check again. Topics about relationships and drug use are common, as is the overlapping of the two, and more’s the point, ‘Tell Them It’s Winter’ rarely gives a fuck in its own unique way.
Words: Matt Oliver
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