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cooly g - Playin' Me
Since first arriving on the scene in 2009 with the Dub Organiser CD-R and 'Narst' 12", the South Londoner's releases have kept coming, but not exactly plentifully or frequently. We now know that Cooly's been using the time well: Playin' Me is a lush, hypnotic, cinematic full-length that will surely rank among the finest to come out of the UK in 2012. Her vocals, languid but lovelorn, figure prominently throughout, beginning with 'He Said I Said', which sets the tone for the plaintive yet punchy material to come, but arguably dub is the strongest and most important current running through the record: remarkably, some of its finest tracks, like the wonderful 'Come Into My Room' and 'Sunshine', rely not on drums but on echo-drenched guitar and piano chords to get their message across. What's really incredible is how free the tracks float of conventional structure - unlike so many "dance" albums, Playin' Me does its own thing, it feels like free music, an authentic urban psychedelia - rhythms become textures, textures become rhythms, and so on. Even the more direct dancefloor assaults retain a pensive quality - despite the Funky drum tattoo and rampant synth vamps driving album stand-out 'Playin' Me', it's the fractured vocals and miasmic Videodrome synths lurking in the background that really ensnare you. 'What Airtime' takes UKF the closest it's been to brooding techno territory since, well, Cooly's own 'Narst', and the closing triumvirate of 'Up In My Head', 'Is It Gone' and rollicking Karizma collab 'It's Serious' investigate the undimmed potential of rugged, soca-fuelled rhythm with proper righteousness and rigour. This is an album that feels like part of that venerable UK tradition of albums seeking a meditative space amid the hubbub and hardship of modern city life, and using dance music tools to dig into deep emotional states.