READ TIME: 4 MINS
In previous releases, pH-1 has displayed what thought he was (‘Halo’) and what he believed he could be (‘X’) however, his latest project, ‘BUT FOR NOW LEAVE ME ALONE’, enforces his stature as to who he is: a multi-talented artist. Appealing to the listener’s emotions, ‘BUT FOR NOW LEAVE ME ALONE’ encompasses pH-1’s music tastes by including genres and sounds that he listens to and loves, allowing him to showcase his skills as a singer, rapper, and above all, a storyteller.
It is clear pH-1 laboured and toiled over this project, focusing most of his time and energy into storytelling. While the story is not as clear cut and detailed as his previous album, ‘HALO’, it is obvious enough; there are three main characters, pH-1, his friends (artists who collaborated with him) and the girl (‘JULIETTE!’), he is desperate to impress the girl but fails, he goes on to face his demons, consoles himself and others over lost and wasted loves, before closing with ‘BVE’ as a thanks to his parents.
In the past, pH-1 has tried and conquered many genres and subgenres with his unique tone, and the diversity displayed in ‘BUT FOR NOW LEAVE ME ALONE’ only adds to his rosta. Songs such as, ‘ZOMBIES’, ‘TGIF’, ‘TIPSY’, ‘DEAD GIRL’ and ‘ISSUES’ are varied in production and tone; ‘ZOMBIES’ uses refined beats, syncopated panning and tasteful lyrics, while taking inspiration from 90s/00s R&B with reverb and vocal echos; ‘TGIF’ incorporates plenty of synths, bass and electric guitar to produce a groovy sound while putting a spin on the acronym to display his “Thank[s to] God [that he is] Famous”; ‘TIPSY’ contains a lyric delivery fitting of the songs concept as pH-1 uses low energy rapping, verging on mumbling, during verses to portray his slight intoxication, however the last forty seconds of the track takes an electronic turn, to display how by the end of the song he is wasted; ‘DEAD GIRL’ uses 80 BPM to represent a steady heartbeat but when the song draws to a close with pH-1 singing and a guitar strumming for the beat drops out to signify the “death” of the girl; ‘ISSUES’ featuring Paloalto, has a noticeable psychedelic feeling to it due to the elongated, octave rising synth chords and since the track ends abruptly it seems that the “issues” are ongoing and have not been resolved.
Besides the attention given to the album structure, each feature has been given careful consideration, from the artist's persona, style and technique. Blase on ‘YUPPIE TING’ was a wise choice as fans of the rapper know he is the korean drill king and the track is is inspired by grime and garage synonymous, and by teaming up with French producer BlackDoe, pH-1 ensured an “authentic” European sound was produced. Similarly, collaborating with Woo, who is known for his monotonous mumbling and sad, bad boy image, stylistically elevated ‘MR. BAD’.
Throughout, there are glimpses of 90s/early 2000s influences, both from hip-hop and R&B, pH-1 truly stands out. The most obvious inspiration would be Eminem for ‘SHRINK TOLD ME’ featuring Mokyo, as the delivery and emotion conveyed during verses is similar, notably to Eminem’s track ‘Stan’ as both songs have slower paced hooks to counteract the intense, passionate verses. And while the project is undoubtedly contemporary, ‘RUN AWAY’ reminded me of MINO’s ‘Love and a boy’ due to its similarities in instrumental and vocal style, especially with the multiple switch ups.
Listen to the album here:
Because each track is unique and different from each other it is difficult to choose a standout, rather each track leads to the next, however ‘BREAK THE GLASS’ undoubtedly emulates the pH-1 of today. With its distorted beats and piano accompaniment, ‘BREAK THE GLASS’ is a lo-fi track with tasteful instrumentals to emphasise how all pH-1 wanted was “some peace”, not to be led on “like a dog on a leash”, and since the female antagonist is out of the picture he can now “sip[ping] on Mai Tai”.
Since ‘BUT FOR NOW LEAVE ME ALONE’ is a personal project the producer line up makes sense, for pH-1 sought to collaborate with producers who were better suited to the release such as, moocean (‘JULIETTE!’) and Nutty (‘FINAL BOUT’). pH-1 previously worked alongside moocean for ‘LATELY’ featuring Hoody, whereas it was his first time collaborating with Nutty who has produced for the likes of Gaeko (코끼리(Gajah)) and THAMA (LAND). When looking at previous pH-1 projects there is a recurring theme of melancholy, whether that be through melodies, storytelling or his voice, and by working with different producers he is able to put a new spin on a familiar narrative.
pH-1 has been able to develop his sound over the past few years; regardless of the backlash and comments towards his singing and style, pH-1 will do whatever he feels is necessary and right to produce records which he is satisfied with. The album has such a high replay value that I can guarantee I will still be listening to it in six months although it will probably invoke a different feeling for me, especially considering how pH-1 himself may have changed too. It is clear that this project has been a cathartic release for the artist as the tracks are different from his first studio album which emit a feeling of staying inside whereas, ‘BUT FOR NOW LEAVE ME ALONE’, feels like pH-1 is and wants to be outside, partying and tempted by vices. While it is unclear whether ‘BUT FOR NOW LEAVE ME ALONE’ is about the past, present or future, it has listeners curious and excited for pH-1’s future endeavours, and they will for sure not leave him alone.
Rating - 9/10
- Catherine Parker & P.