8.5 / 10
Durham based rapping duo release their new EP. Louder Than War’s Paul Scott-Bates reviews.
It seems there are a million would-be rappers out there, some good, some not-so. It is therefore quite a relief to come across an act doing something a little bit different.
Durham City has spawned Outside Your House, a duo made up of Faithful Johannes and Jonathan Swift who cut and mix up some cool beats and sounds to bring something very special to the party. With a background of poetry and folk, vocalist Johannes displays a skill for some brilliant rhyming couplets and detailed lyrics which unfold into modern day reflections of everyday feeling and society.
Where Outside Your House differ is in their presentation. There’s no shouty shouty vocalisation here as Faithful whispers his words in a self-confessed style of ‘barely rap’ which is both calming and intriguing. Swift supplies some amazing backing from sampled vinyl records, beats and live work which add a mystique to perfectly marry the vocals.
The instrumentation is often sublime, the perfect accompanying to the murmur. Dennis Taylor Style zips through trip-hop, jazz and avant garde in four luscious minutes leaving the listener slightly dumfounded if not compelled to hear more.
Often having the scope for clumsiness, the mash-ups just see to gel perfectly. Opening with Photos Out There and the line “I’m a vegetarian on a budget” the stage is set. Crackling vinyl flickers in the background and a thumpy bass drum joins a looped acoustic guitar with observations on relationships, the internet and Jacques Cousteau. As a sitar joins the track to close, you know you’re not in for a regular trip.
Fading Out (Like The Pictures On My Work ID) includes vocals from a voice not unlike Karen Carpenter which brings a slightly haunting feel over a Jarvis Cocker diction and a touch of the pschydelias, and Improbable Cities is a skilful play of words over a sparse modern day electronica. Bare, but slowly rising with the addition of an effective bass snare, it wriggles along like a lizard in a hot tin with intentions of escape.
Six tracks of pure originality and undoubted talent end with EP closer Forks where Swift adds his own harmony to close. Two blokes with an agenda that they will undoubtedly do their utmost to thrust onto all and sundry. One EP that you must own.
All words by Paul Scott-Bates. More of Paul’s writing on Louder Than War can be found at his author’s archive. Paul’s website is hiapop Blog and you can follow him on Twitter here, and on Facebook here. You can also follow him on Twitter as @saveonthewire for all On The Wire news.