Hakim Murphy, Chiffre

[Mindshift Records]

Buy Vinyl

It’s common for producers to become less productive musically as they grow more popular, with gigs consuming an ever greater proportion of their time and energy. Both solo and as half of Innerspace Halflife, Hakim Murphy has seen his profile rise considerably over the last 18 months. Yet 2013 was, by far, the Chicago producer’s most prolific year to date. Decorating his already sizable discography with solo records for Planet Detroit, Teknicolr Music, Ill Rivers, Instruction, Mindshift Records, and his own Synapsis Records was only half the story. New collaborations with Chicago Skyway (Pegasus Heat) and G. Marcell (Resonating), a new alias (hm505), and Innerspace Halflife’s multiple records total a whopping 13 releases. Is it possible to produce so much and maintain a high standard of quality? Since the fire-hose rate at which his music arrived made it nearly impossible to experience it all, I’m making a somewhat random inspection of Chiffre, which slid out near the end of 2013 via Seattle’s Mindshift Records.

The record’s two originals are not among Murphy’s most scrupulously sculpted works, preferring an unpolished frenzy of sound which suits 2013’s lo-fi zeitgeist. Perhaps made in the Berlin airport terminal which provides its title, “Tegel E” feels especially hands-on, the haphazard logic of the clattering hi-hats, tambourine hits, and ricocheting snares defying simple looping. Swelling pads and pinwheeling synth lines are clear-headed counterparts for floor-bending kicks and a cantankerous bass line. As if a lucid dream, it’s disorienting, full of possibilities, and sure to confound less prepared DJs. “Gangsta Glide” has a clearer trajectory and more welcoming atmosphere but is largely cut from the same cloth, subbing in Juno-esque bass along the loping percussion and letting synths waft upwards.

DJ Spider and Mindshift label owner, Murdoc, offer their takes on two unreleased Hakim Murphy tracks. Spider drags “Nabodani” into the sewers of New York, characteristically stoking dread in listeners with chilly tones and employing an over-long “Planet of the Apes” sample that masks what’s happening underneath. Murdoc’s “Vatitio” remix is utterly straightforward and all the better for it. Bass rubs so gregarious they might as well be cats nudge listeners onto the dance floor but the dicing hi-hats and fat claps keep them there, occasionally doused in a perfume of organ chords and the gentle riposte, “First of all….” It nails the mid-set pacer role perfectly, rounding out what is otherwise an unconventional but largely appealing slate of sounds — itself a worthy assurance that Hakim Murphy is certainly not on autopilot.


Little White Earbuds January Charts 2014 – Little White Earbuds  on January 27, 2015 at 7:57 PM

[…] JTC, “Valley Road (We Are One)” [Spectral Sound] (buy) 07. Hakim Murphy, “Vatitio” (Murdoc Remix) [Mindshift Records] (buy) 08. Elgato, “Links” [Galdoors] (buy) 09. Shackleton, […]

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