Introducing Bobby, the moniker of our latest reviewer to the blog with adventures from the left field of electronic music. First up is a little known artist called Handbook and his self-released Layerism available on Bandcamp.
Taking on new territory by layering samples in his tracks, Handbook is an Idiot’s Guide to keeping it simple. There is none of the ruthless experimentation or boundary-breaking manner in his production, which is not to say that Handbook is falling short from his ubiquitous beat-making peers.
Head over to his Bandcamp page and observe his tireless efforts, back from his first self-released beat tape EP Cutter in November 2010, that finally reaches to a crescendo that is Layerism.
Hardly much is known about the artist, save for a few scant facts; a Lincolnshire native who grew up in Yorkshire, England, listing apparent influences from the likes of 9th Wonder, J Dilla, and West Coast beatmongers, the Klipmode crew (interview source, with mixtape, from French electronic-bass record label, Cascade Records’ podcast).
Almost all of Handbook’s beat tapes/ albums are self-released, with the exception of Amnesia, released under Brussels independent label, Urban Waves Records on September 2011.
The dreamy synths and saturated reverbs reigning in Amnesia take a back seat in Layerism, as warm swingy beats are a uniform pattern that permeates throughout the album, kick starting with The Day Begins (Seasonal), backed with a melancholic landscape of choppy guitar and jazz flute samples – endearing even with the obligatory sidechaining.
By the third track, Ninja (a personal favourite) furtively sneaks up on you with an unyielding orchestral backdrop and occasional jangle of bells - perhaps a tambourine - in the distance, that is slight yet significant.
Things get into a full swing with drunkenly resonant drones of Sixties To the Left, smoothly cascading to Mountains, where a silken-voiced chanteuse seduces the track.
The lovely harp in Rhino is heard strumming like delicate raindrops, against the dynamic smatter of samples, bass and clap-snare; a surprisingly pleasant and balanced concoction which stresses on Handbook’s gift for revitalising the basics.
Layerism is a congenial album that can easily satisfy most listening needs, and while it may be rather predictable, it is only in a good way. Sincere and heartwarming, it clearly demonstrates the erudite beatsmith’s talent and maturity in his work, making it all the more assessible.
More often than not, Handbook provides free downloads of his stellar tracks on Soundcloud. So go on, get acquainted.
01. The Day Begins (Seasonal)
02. Hear it Out
05. The Sixties (To the Left)
08. Drive Through
10. The Orient