Workrate is something illusive High Focus records wordsmith Jam Baxter has absolutely mastered: Having released ten projects over the past ten years, there aren’t many who could eclipse such a feat while maintaining the high standards of quality Baxter always manages to draw from the inner dwellings of his image rich mind for lyricism.
‘Touching Scenes‘ rounds of this decade of projects in amicable fashion, as Jam portrays a vivid array of visual scenes with a touching impact, in a manner of warming one’s very soul. More plainly put, this collection of songs is one to brush off those cobwebs and get even the rustiest of mental cogs spinning.
Enchanting from the very off, opening track ‘Guillotine‘ sets the scene with its luring, sauntered beat conjured in a fashion of mass enticing that welcomes you to this most positively haunting tale that has you feel you are being whisked away somewhere only Jam could take you.
Jam’s exquisite penchant for finding the glimmers of beauty in the utterly desolate is evident throughout ‘Touching Scenes‘, as he picks apart the gruesome and unsavoury to reveal or rather create wholesome and nourishing offerings. The album exemplifies this outlook – it could be considered a somewhat challenging listen that yields gems at every corner, instilling significant reward in the listener when a certain soundbite clicks, a eureka moment within your brain where the centerpiece to the jigsaw slots into place meticulously.
Being a fan of rich literature, the work presented and visceral images constantly being drawn up through the earnest voyage being explored sit very well and do a lot to engage and please the brain. Take ‘S. S. A‘ for example, which features one of my favourite quotes on the project – which is hard as quotables are provided en mass, and funny cause it’s cynically humorous in chopping about this manner of writing about music: “Hoards of dormant critics write reviews in vacant basements, peppered round decrepit towns they pick apart our statements. I burn their filing cabinets with unbridled glee“. A good few chuckles surface when hearing this and although it’s not his most obscure painting, it can be visualised exceptionally.
About ‘Touching Scenes‘, Jam had this to say: “‘Touching Scenes‘ represents the culmination of a years worth of writing through a very chaotic time, with songs penned in London, Sao Paulo and Bangkok. Intended as a slightly ironic title, the album explores the seedy and unsettling corners of every major metropolis after dark, peeling the shiny veneer off modern society, its’ weirder characters and its’ sprawling drug culture, and revealing beauty in its’ gutters.”
The exotic background of the project is reflected expansively in each instrumental, allowing for a suitably eerie and brooding soundscape that Jam builds so well on top of as he exhibits the extremely unique lyricism he has become renowned for.
‘Know by Now‘ is a tune steeped in debauchery, displaying an exuberant chemistry between Jam and Blah Records‘ Stinkin’ Slumrok who comes through perfectly abrasive to match the urgent vibrancy of the instrumental. Reminiscent of Dead Players, this track continues the higher intensity hinted at by the erratic ‘Feeding Frenzy‘, which features a beat switch up that brings with it a feverish paroxysm of top shelf shelling you should be accustomed to by now.
I think it’s fair to say I’m a little biased when it comes to Mr. Baxter, being a big admirer of all of his projects and having him hold the coveted spot as my favourite High Focus artist, but I truly don’t believe there is another rapper – UK wise at least – that’s on the same level as he is, lyrically there is no-one I’ve heard that has the same knack for obscure wordsmithery whilst contorting his choice of words into imagery that sways from glorious to grotesque but all in magnificent fashion. Couple this with his ear for a beat that time and time again sees him draw upon unorthodox and out of the box instrumentals, there really is no other in the same box.
One thing that’s always apparent with a Baxter project that is no different with ‘Touching Scenes‘, is how much depth is packed in: These are not albums you can feel fully acquainted with after a mere couple of listens, and you are very well rewarded for spending your time getting to know the body of work as each spin will reveal more of the gold, and it is for this exact reason you get many more miles from such a project – as opposed to an album that’s instantly pleasing and quickly becomes boring.
The only aspect I could potentially display dismay at of this record, considering how well they gelled on ‘Mansion 38‘ is the lack of a Lee Scott appearance. However, such dismay is massively negated by the knowledge of what’s in the works behind the scenes.. Be sure to keep your eyes firmly peeled is all I’ll say.
‘Touching Scenes‘ is out now via High Focus Records! Click here to order it and enlighten your life.
Don’t act a fool and make sure you’re present at the album tour, taking place at various lucky venues from end of November through early December – this opportunity gives you the chance to say hi to BG! (at the London date)