Kieren Dickins aka DELS is a new type of rapper (which is another way of saying that hes more than just a rapper). Applying the kind of attention to detail, micro-management and macro-vision which Jay-Z used to build a business empire, DELS makes art. Popular art mind you, but art all the same, an album of emotional peaks, musical innovation and surreal, brilliant lyrics, held together by such a unique, such a strong vision that it sounds almost silly to suggest its just a debut.
Dickins recorded GOB with just three producers, all of whom he has collaborated with for a significant amount of time and all of whom are more interested in creating something with him than in giving him a beat to rhyme on. Micachu is perhaps best known for her indie work with her band The Shapes but her interest in grime and hip hop is as well documented in a series of mixtapes and videos on YouTube. Together she and DELS create the bad-trip anthem Melting Patterns and Violina, which catches all the disorientation and anger of a relationship break-up. Longtime mentor and friend Joe Goddard of Hot Chip is represented on Trumpalump (featuring his own beautifully melancholy / hopeful chorus).
Trumpalump is a tune which throws all the rules about the correct structuring of a classic pop song out of the window, drags them back in through the backdoor and makes of them one of the most beautiful, funny and compelling rap records youve heard in a good old while.
The record begins with DELS dropping a collage of thoughts and images over Goddards chugging, beat. With the second verse, the music changes, a more reflective, melancholy feel coming in as DELS rap resolves into the theme of dreams within dreams, the lyrics still funny, but more thoughtful and just as concrete in terms of the images they generate. Just when you think it cant get any better, a steel drum starts syncopating the beat and the tune is finished by Goddards beautiful, understated chorus. Surprising, innovative and just plain different, youll be reaching for rewind before you know it. We hope so, anyway
On Shapeshift Goddard hooks up some ultra-squelchy, off-kilter electronic madness (as well as dropping in to deliver a poker-faced middle 8). Over it, DELS does what he does best, in this case taking us back to a childhood in which his biggest dream was to be able to turn into something else. Its a proper recollection of childhood, its fears and well as its fun, not one of those fake lists of vintage products like Raleigh Grifters. DELS slams it out in a clear voice which shows the influence of Grime, while the cleverness of his punch lines and metaphors show he aint kowtowing to any of the many cliches of the form.
There is a brand new track, Capsize, which dissects something of the current political situation in the company of Roots Manuva (the only guest MC on the record) – a kind of Ghost Town for a new generation.
The bulk of the album, though, comes from Kwes. Already known for his singles on Young Turks plus production work for the likes of the Invisible and the XX, in Kwes DELS found his perfect foil. In a suite of tracks ranging from Hydronenburg, through the truly remarkable Moonshining, and on into the insanely ambitious Eating Clouds (an earlier version of which was first heard on Ninja Tunes XX compilation last year), DELS and Kwes lay out the sheer, revolutionary extent of their ambition early.
But its in the last three tracks of the record, DLR, Droogs and GOB that the record reaches its fruition. A track about a homeless woman (DLR, featuring a beautiful vocal contribution from sometime bandmate Elan Tamara) and a true story of rape and child abuse told in reverse (the Nadsat-titled Droogs), this could be a downbeat end to a record if it wasnt for the brilliance with which the subjects are treated, both musically and vocally.
And if it wasnt for the last track, GOB. GOB shows Dickins, angry, battered, but ultimately hopeful, rising up through all the shit of the world determined to triumph, succumbing neither to the nonsense around him or his own quest for perfection, gradually lifted aloft on a monster of a piece of music (it would be doing it a misservice to call it a beat) from Kwes.
Its a superb end to what is sure to be a breakthrough record for DELS, one which he can take a huge amount of credit for, having been intimately involved in every aspect of its creation, from artwork and videos, right down to the fonts. Despite the title of his record, DELS is no loud mouth. He talks quietly, in measured tones, but when he talks we listen…
02. Trumpalump feat. Joe Goddard
05. Eating Clouds
06. Melting Patterns
07. Capsize feat. Joe Goddard Roots Manuva
08. Violina / Bread before Bed
09. DLR fea.t Elan Tamara