1. Testify (with Flevans)
2. Housebound Hedonist (with Dr Syntax)
3. The Present (with Moviestar)
4. Tea Total feat. The Swinghoppers
5. Walk In The Sun feat. Lack Of Afro
6. All I Need feat. Nick Maxwell
7. You Remind Me Of A Hustle (with John Gallaghan)
8. Make Good Art pt. 3 feat. Willie Evans Jr & Jesse Dangerously
9. Snake Oil
10. Just Like An Otter feat. Tom Caruana
11. Brave New World
12. P's & Q's
13. Devil In The Desert
I'll put my hand up, I'll admit it.
I love Professor Elemental.
There, I said it.
There's just something about the Chap-Hop superstar that I really enjoy. He surpasses being "novelty act", taking the character of a Victoriana-Steampunk English rapper with his orangutan butler Geoffrey, and wrapping him in some wonderful beats and music while adding some icing to the musical cake by layering on some humour that's definitely a throwback to simpler times. Serious topics are still discussed but in a gentler indirect way while the character's overall arc is crazy, more Monty Python than Eminem. In fact, try to think of the Professor's adventures like a series of comic books (of which he has his own) as there's many references to the medium, something that keeps the inner geek in me happy.
"Professor Elemental And His Amazing Friends II" is the follow up to last year's "School Of Whimsy" and is more of a collection of tracks featuring the Prof collaborating with other artists so it doesn't hang together as well as his usual releases. Who gives a fig though when you've got these great songs to listen to? Not me, that's for sure.
It opens with 'Testify' an upbeat track that sees Elemental's brand of positivity stand to the fore with a backing put together by Flevans. Next up is the familiar 'Housebound Hedonists' from last year's album, but here it's been remixed and spruced up by Tom Caruana, his long time producer. Dr Syntax also reprises his appearance from the original as the pair talk about the benefits of staying at home on holiday rather than going away, their tongues never straying far from their cheeks (their own of course, not each others).
Several of the songs can be looked at as songs with inclusive narratives. ‘The Present’ is a funky tale of time travel while ‘Tea Total’ sees Elemental running a foul of the law after opening an, erm, tea shop. The songs feature Moviestar and The Swinghoppers respectively and the collaborations work really well together.
‘Walk In The Sun’ swings back to a more traditional song structure with Lack Of Afro helping add a real sunny swagger to the track. ‘Needful Things’ adds probably the oddest drum loop you’ll hear to a song with Nick Maxwell adding some cuts to the Tom Caruana track. ‘You Mind Me Of The Hustle’ sees John Callaghan update one of Professor Elemental’s older songs (‘You Remeind Me Of A Car’) by reworking it to the backing of 70’s classic disco classic ‘Do The Hustle’ by Van McCoy; it keeps the fun and humorous feel of the original without any diminishing returns.
‘Make Good Art (Part 3)’ takes one of the original songs from “School Of Whimsy” and remixes it, but, unfortunately, it doesn’t really build much on the originals. This and the previously mentioned ‘Housebound Headonists’ feel as though they’ve been added to give fans as much as possible but they hardly feel essential. The lazy Hip Hop beat of ‘Snake Oil’ takes us to a fantasy carnival with The Sweetchunks Band and despite the more laid back tempo it helps bring the focus back to the album. This is followed by ‘Just Like An Otter’ which is all strings, water sound effects and beats while the Professor adds rhymes to this mid paced Jazz Funk anthem. Throw in some old TV samples (I’m sure that’s Bernard Cribbins there at one point) and it’s another winner for the album.
The science fiction themed ‘Brave New World’ looks at the modern world we live in and how social media has taken over our lives with the help of Fresh Kils and Megaran. Manners and grammar take the spotlight on ‘P’s & Q’s’ while satirising some of the more clutched elements of society. Funky beats and scratching opens ‘Devil In The Desert’, allowing the Prof to flow his lyrics in an upbeat and speedy manner with The Gaslight Troubaors. It proves that he has some real skills behind him, it’s not a one punchline joke. There’s genuine talent on show here that may be overlooked due to the numerous nature of the songs but, damn it, these songs are funky and fun. The album (w)raps up (sorry) with ‘Monster’, a collaboration with Ninjula that likens the song the song to the monster created in Frankenstein’s lab. Again, it’s upbeat and fun. You’ll realise that your foot has been tapping and your head bobbing along to the entire album, the corners of your mouth definitely curled up into a smile.
“Professor Elemental And His Amazing Friends II” is a cool album to listen to. As it’s a collection of collaborations it doesn’t flow as well as his usual albums but it’s still a great listen. It has the tunes you’ll like and holds your interest from start to finish. The album will hold fans off for the time being but I know we’ll all still be looking forward to Professor Elemental’s next album release.
Website - www.professorelemental.com
Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/ProfessorElemental/
Review - Scott Hamilton