EP Review: SNAKESHIPS – Minnow Johnson EP (Free Download)
SNAKEHIPS is the all-capitals alter-ego of North London musician Ollie Dickinson. J Dilla-style instrumental hip hop is his game, and his latest release, the “MINNOW JOHNSON” EP was released independently last week.
The record gets straight to the point, “INTRO” teases with some Wu-Tang Clan-recalling samples, (“…the snake bites!” sample re-hashing the “Shaolin shadow-boxing” commentary of “Bring Da Ruckus”), but “DAYS WITH U” and its reprise is probably the most staple example of what to expect for the rest of the EP. It’s essentially a generous helping of Flying Lotus claps thrown onto The Avalanches’ classic “Since I Left You”, dowsed in tremolo ‘waow’s and Game Boy sound effects. Add chopped R ‘n’ B and soul vocal samples, piano loops and distorted transitions and you’ve basically got the rest of “MINNOW JOHNSON” in a nutshell.
That is, at least, until the final track, “WHAT U R” which has a much more complete feel, thankfully smashing the 2-minute standard set by the other 11 tracks with a romantic backing and even a full-verse vocal sample. I’m not quite sure why “SAY IT” is bracketed as “INTERLUDE” – it’s a clear continuation of the preceding tracks’ styles and sounds – I feel like a track like “WHAT U R” would have mixed things up nicely at this point, as its position as a closer perhaps doesn’t give it the emphasis it deserves.
“MINNOW JOHNSON” is a polished piece of work and will undoubtedly please any fan of classic instrumental hip-hop, however it does sometimes suffer from a lack of variation, with few dynamic shifts, generic ‘ooh’ samples, and a pretty constant half-time tempo. Having said that, there is clearly a lot of passion in these compositions, and when the record is broken up into smaller chunks, the admirable intricacies become much more evident.