Mansbestfriend

I must admit, I've had this record for some time now but I guess I've been putting off writing any kind of review for it so I could savour that honeymoon period you get with an album before you commit your opinion to words. It's a blissfully pure period where you can react to something as special as this without having to say why. And I don't intend to say too much about why this record is so special so if you haven't heard it you're gonna have to just take my word for it.

Mansbestfriend is an alias of Anticon co-founder Sole (Tim Holland) and since 2004's The New Human Is Illegal, his first release under this name, it was clear that he had a different agenda here. The alias aims to serve the production side of Sole's talents and although the debut still contained the hard-hitting rap style that dazzled fans under his own name it was released on the largely electronic Morr Music label. So with poly.sci.187 you get the feeling that this is Sole getting about as close as he can get to his ideal. It's virtually all instrumental and it's a production master-class of the type that I never would have thought possible by such a pioneer of underground hip hop.

I say it's instrumental, but that's not entirely true. It's definitely the sound of a rapper who's got tired of his own voice so instead he has filled the songs with a whole variety of vocal samples that all serve to express the heavy political viewpoint of this man. The album opens with a quote from the famous anarchist Emma Goldman and from there we get all manner of sound-bites from a young boy pleading for peace in his homeland of Lebanon to a curious vintage recording of Wheel Of Fortune broadcasting live from the New Orleans Superdome. All of this is smothered in the richest production since Boards Of Canada. Each beat is gently coaxed out of organic textures and surrounded by all sorts of fuzz and static. It has a melancholic nostalgia that is both unsettling and strangely comforting like looking at old film footage of your grandparents as children. It's this duality that makes it so special. It can wrap you in its wooly static warmth but while you're in there you get a pretty disturbing image of the world past and present.