Even if Peace, Love & Music was inspired by new places, new people and new experiences, it still sounds like the same Swindle we know. The music sits firmly in the UK dance continuum, touching on dubstep, grime and drum & bass with an expert hand. And though the perspective may jump from Shanghai to Los Angeles to South Africa, Peace, Love & Music isn't a travelogue, nor does it employ tacky world music clichés. The feeling of each location is absorbed in a more indirect way, from the funky glam of "London To LA" through the speedy lunge of "Tokyo (Japan)," one of the most direct and club-ready moments here. Only "Shanghai," with its Asian instrumentation, or "Denver," with its "D-E-N-V-E-R" chant, come close to cultural tourism. (The latter is a goofy but heartfelt tribute to one of dubstep's capital cities anyway.)
The worldly feeling also comes through the enormous variety, from nasty tear-out dubstep on JME's "Mad Ting" (the London-repping track) to the murky menace of "Global Dance," featuring Flowdan and Mungo's Hifi (illustrating the cross-section of influences that define Glasgow clubland). "Malasimbo" has Filipino vocalist Hilarius Dauag scatting over a loose and itchy woodblock rhythm that could've been sourced from an old Darkstar record, and then "Black Bird" brings things back home with a soulful performance from Joel Culpepper, adorned with lush brass, woodwinds and a string section. It's the kind of formula that could turn to muzak mush in the wrong hands, but in Palmer's it's potent.
"Elevator," a collaboration with TC, pokes fun at that strand of loungey electronica, setting a blue horn melody in snappy drum framework that sounds suspiciously like Baauer & RL Grime's "Infinite Daps." The funny combination only gets weirder once it turns to drum & bass halfway through, an example of Palmer's lighthearted approach as well as his knack for pulling the unexpected out of the familiar—something that's helped keep his brand of dubstep consistently fresh.
Those last two ideas make Peace, Love & Music Palmer's best record yet. The connection to Butterz is key, especially considering that Palmer's recent releases have come via dubstep traditionalists Deep Medi. When Butterz was founded, it helped revolutionize and revitalize grime as a healthy dance music scene—not only by emphasizing the producer over the MC, but by folding in elements of UK garage, dubstep and bassline to loosen the otherwise hermetically-sealed genre rules. Which is what Palmer does for himself on Peace, Love & Music, an album as cosmopolitan as its ambitious tracklist makes it out to be.
Mon / 2 Nov 2015
01. Gotta Do (Intro)
02. London To LA feat. Ash Riser (LA)
03. Transkit: Yea Yea
04. Denver feat. SubMission @ Cervantes (Denver, Colorado)
05. Transkit: Walk N Skank Radio
06. Global Dance feat. Flowdan & Mungo's Hifi (Glasgow)
07. Find You feat. Nonku Phiri (South Africa)
08. Black Bird feat. Joel Culpepper
09. Malasimbo feat. Hilarius Dauag (Philippines)
10. Shanghai (China)
11. Tokyo (Japan)
12. Transkit: Loving feat. Terri Walker & Joel Culpepper
13. Elevator feat. TC
14. Smoke Break (Amsterdam) feat. Guerilla Speakerz
15. Mad Ting feat. JME (London)
16. Sing Like You're Winning feat. Jay Wilcox & Terri Walker (Outro)