READ TIME: 3 MINS
Sitting on a park bench, the sun is shining while the wind keeps me cool, and Spray’s ‘Reaching Out’ is the background music that enhances the moment. An album where the listener can’t help but consume it in one sitting, Spray blends genres to produce a second album which makes you wonder if the sounds are inspired by the past or future.
A melodic keyboard with excessive effects mimics being played through a gramophone and opens ‘Reaching Out’ in the track Cranes (with Lionclad). These effects are then distorted to transition the song to an electronic-cyber-punk-esque landscape. This track is purely instrumental but far from boring as the sounds used are heavily side chain compressed, creating a feeling that the track is pulsating. Most importantly though, the drum and bass line prepares us for the next track, Jangjeon.
Jangjeon has been on my hype playlist since its release as a single in 2020. The track features Coogie, pH-1 and PUFF DAEHEE as vocals and has a steady trap line with plenty of snares and deep bass throughout, but it’s the brass instruments which complete the track. The staccato saxophone which appears to accompany the second half of the verses diversifies the track, and despite being released 3 years ago, Jangjeon still slaps.
But Spray doesn’t just hype us up in ‘Reaching Out’, he mellows us with tracks like Grindin’ All Day (with DON MALIK and Kid Milli) and Saturday (with Hoody), where the instrumentals of the two tracks encapsulate the titles which they feature in. Funk inspired track, Grindin’ All Day, uses an R&B drum kit, a MIDI organ, electric guitar, and synth to blend genres and produce an easygoing, enjoyable song reminiscent of a Notorious B.I.G track. Whereas Saturday takes inspiration from lo-fi with the simple drum beat to accompany an electric guitar, synth, and electric piano. Listening to these two tracks in the afternoon sun brought a calm sensation to my soul and had me envisioning listening to them both the upcoming warm summer evenings.
Spray doesn’t stop there though and slows things down even further with Coogie and Meenoi in Bad Timing. Ethereal instrumentals fade out and create pockets of silence to juxtapose the steady rapping and singing of Coogie and Meenoi while the hook has the two artists repeat, “Don’t push me to the edge” almost like a mantra warning the listener.
Following the respite of these chill songs, it is only natural for the remaining songs to re-energise the listener in a more upbeat capacity. Leellamarz hops on the track Mic Check which has a title that reflects the vibe of the song. An acoustic guitar melody leads the song while a boom bap/R&B fusion beat maintains the song tempo. Samples of record scratching and distortion effects are used at the 1:50 mark to switch up the song into a tastefully altered clave rhythm recognisably used in Latino music before Leellamarz and the instrumentals cease to allow for the beat to close the song. Mic Check appeases the thirst for straight-forward, unapologetic rap accompanied by laid-back, unobtrusive instrumentals which is then countered by Man’s Like.
Man’s Like transported me back to the 90s drum & bass/hip-hop scene, this song had no faults; from the collaboration with Coogie and Blasé, to the instruments used to embody the genre it is emulating. Instrumental heavy the song continues to use crisp cymbals and dry instrumentals to really throw it back to old school hip-hop and makes me bop my head subconsciously. Spray completes the masterpiece by including distorted samples to complete the track and further reflect the 90s vibe.
To close the album we have the track Love, which is sex-y. Featuring the sublime skills of Jason Lee, whose saxophone solo completes the track, LOCO and Moon Sujin accompany Spray’s track with vocals which complement one another throughout. Definitely a track to feel all the feels, Love whispers to the listener, advising, comforting, and spurring them on in their relationship woes. Spray ensures to leave the listener wanting more though by fading out the album with Jason Lee’s saxophone solo, for the notes linger long after the track ends.
What I particularly appreciate about the album is that when crediting the collaborating artists, Spray has used the term “with” in oppose to the usual “featuring” which implies that each song has been made working alongside each artist, considering their style, rather than asking them to simply sing or rap on top of the beat. ‘Reaching Out’ is a testament to Spray’s diversity as a DJ and Producer, as he has successfully blended genres to produce diverse tracks, which have then been carefully incorporated in one album without it feeling forced or overwhelming. Without a doubt, ‘Reaching Out’ shall be blasting from my speakers all summer, for every time I listen to the album, it feels refreshing and new as I notice something I had not before.
- Catherine Parker