Reviews

J.Smo
Purgatory

J. Smo of Bunks, Purgatory, EP Review, Independent Music Blog, Music Reviews, Hip-Hop

The EP Purgatory brings audiences an array of creativity from a talented collection of individuals, not least of all the primary artist – J.Smo of BUNKS.

Opening track Radio Lies, a collaboration with Permanent Moods and Zion Antoni, introduces the project brilliantly. The track brings forth a fusion of styles and genres, an indie ethic with a peaceful ambiance and a very classic edge of hip-hop. It’s awesomely unusual, expressive and honest, and the character that strides forwards with each and every moment is greatly appealing.

It’s always a pleasure to discover something genuinely unique in nature. The fusion of genres in this one is undeniably fresh, and it works – experimentation or a desire to be original have not taken the place of great music, they have driven it towards you with great personality and style. What’s more, on top of the varied nature of the instrumentation and the overall creativity of the music, these rap vocal performances have so much about them that grabs your attention. The ideas expressed have strength in themselves, and the way the lyrics are portrayed adds an element of genuine storytelling to the project. Forsaken Veteran of The Drug Wars, with Bob Crain, is a superb example of this.

The track has an acoustic guitar riff leading the music, plus some peaceful, ambient keys and synth sounds, and snippets of a vintage voice over. Then you get this organic sounding beat, and the high energy of the leading vocal, which, once again, tells you a story you never could have heard before – one told in a way that at times makes you want to smile, and at other times makes you question your entire existence. The brilliance of this track is the joyful and folk-like energy of the music, particularly the song that takes centre stage towards the end – all of this contrasts effectively with the energy and character of the rap vocal. These stories of acid and weed and drug abuse in general are not often told over an acoustic guitar and such hopeful sounding chords. It’s fantastic to listen to, a really fresh way to highlight the themes within.

The EP in it’s entirety is, as mentioned, incredibly varied. The featured artists throughout the six tracks have differences in their own musical styles, so each collaboration in a way is likely to be something totally separate form the last, but even so – the tracks flow well, the leading rap vocal drives the project as a unit, a single work of art, whilst also highlighting the talent and skill of each of those involved.

Chin Up, with Leslie Rohonczy, has a darker overall vibe to it that again stands out as something completely removed from it’s predecessors. The track has great style, a really heavy energy that grabs you and refuses to let go. The concept as well is something that’s likely to hold value for most listeners. Any music or art inspiring positive thinking can always be made room for in our lives.

Swim, with the aptly named artist Brother Octopus, has retro-synth sound to it from the offset, swiftly evolving into a hugely energetic piece of music, with yet another upbeat and passionate rap vocal that draws you in and makes you want to listen to every word. The sound of the leading vocal has a slightly familiar sound to it; it’s a very classic flow, the style is reminiscent perhaps of some of the world’s first mainstream hip-hop artists. The nostalgia in this respect adds to the power of the music and makes it all the more likable.

Wish You Were, a track featuring BUNKS and FM Down, once again flips the table on what you thought you were in for. The acoustic guitar sound returns, the melody of a folk song, a very honest and bold collection of lyrics, and an overall hopeful and optimistic vibe comes towards you as the track progresses. There’s a lot to be heard, and much of it is inspiring, positively influential; a great set of ideals to express and to share with the world.

Angelo’s Breakdown, with C Bret of Stephenson Road, takes a turn for the somewhat even more reflective and unusual. The track this time has a theatrical, dramatic feel to it from the very beginning. The story telling that follows seems to combine every ounce of honesty and energy from the previous tracks and reveal the true colours of the artistry, without holding back at all.

The emotion inherent in the leading vocal performance is extremely raw and striking. You can’t help but listen at this point; the organic sound of the instruments leave so much space around the rap vocal, and so this is what you focus on – this voice, this literal, live, in-the-moment interpretation of a breakdown. It’s inescapably honest, and this gives it so much volume. The realness is undeniable, and by now you fully realise how eclectic and overwhelming the Purgatory EP has been. It bears listening to way more than just once.

Head over to Bandcamp to download the Purgatory EP. Check out the Bunks Website for more information and music. Find and follow J.Smo of BUNKS on Facebook, Youtube and Twitter to stay updated.

Rebecca CullenMusician & writer with an MA in Songwriting.


One response to “J.Smo – Purgatory

  1. jeezus, I would think that Smo had sent you the instrumental version of “Angelo’s…” with the story on it, because yeah, it’s literally a live on-the-spot take (2 takes to get it all down). Great words, THANKS

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