Nebraska, Displacement


“Poolwater” by Alli Coate

[Rush Hour Recordings]


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Being a tailor or seamstress is hardly the most glamorous job in the garment industry. Fashion designers and their labels tend to receive most of the credit and money while the people turning their concepts into reality are known only to the most dedicated sartorialists. Ali Gibbs is a producer whose aesthetic and experience in the music business seem to echo that of a fine tailor. Inspired by the sample-based hip-hop stylings of Steinski and A Tribe Called Quest, the Londoner who goes by Nebraska stitches together the thoughtfully selected samples that are the basis for most of his house-oriented tracks. Although he’s been releasing since the mid-90’s, his meticulous craftsmanship had largely been overlooked until the last few years when Rush Hour Recordings began reissuing and championing his warm and patient sound. After two well received EPs of new material, Gibbs returns with his highest profile statement yet, the Displacement LP for Rush Hour.

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With RH — the house music equivalent of prime Savile Row real estate — on his side, Gibbs has written eight tracks whose intensity matches the opportunity. Where earlier Nebraska tracks tended to be hushed affairs requiring listeners to lean forward and inspect their detail work, Displacement is a collection of bold colors and patterns that can be admired from afar. “Phtalo Blues” swoops into action with high impact string stabs and blurry edges while smashing piano chords dominate “The Mountains” and cast long, low end shadows. Gibbs’ impeccable construction is still of paramount importance to the tracks, but the arrangements tend to be more straightforward and take fewer detours from four-to-the-floor beats than found on his first full-length, Mixed Up Music For Mixed Up People. This is exemplified by album standout “Patina,” whose massive, Salsoul-esque horn/piano hits are handily placed to retain their Latin swagger while fitting neatly inside 4×4 structures. Some might argue the album doesn’t go far enough to develop Gibbs’ sound, yet Displacement feels like the work of an artist confident enough to pump up his sound without fear of alienating long haul supporters.

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That’s not to say the album bangs from front to back. It begins with the palate-cleansing “Allahabad” where thoroughly manipulated organ samples recall a VHS sputtering to life, warbles and all. The bass heavy “Aitch Aitch” is the relaxed slate on which Gibbs sprinkles delayed organ vamps and broad strokes of sustained strings. With its long, sighing orchestral phrases, “The Cruives” has the widescreen feel of its bombastic companions but offers an altogether more introspective tone. “You & I” is not as ambitious as some of the other tracks, but it’s heartwarming nonetheless when its soulful vocal line tucks itself into the groove and rocks contentedly. Displacement closes on the downtempo-styled “Characteristics,” complete with vintage spoken vocals and twilit melodies. These both provide the breathing room in the album and showcase the scope of Gibbs’ well rounded style. Unlike his first album, which was composed over a decade’s time and featured contributions by James Mason, Displacement is a statement of where Nebraska alone stands in 2011. Ever the impressive tailor, Gibbs takes the basic forms of sample-led house and constructs something exciting through the strength of his cuts and deft arrangements.

Nick S  on August 23, 2011 at 10:36 PM

Patina’s off the hook – possibly a head nod to Dilla/De La Soul – Stakes Is High? Either way, awesome stuff. Feeling the whole album.

Sibonelo Zulu  on August 29, 2011 at 9:24 AM

Can’t wait for the album to hit my turntable….

Blaktony  on August 29, 2011 at 8:31 PM

Sounds like a keeper.

Trackbacks

Little White Earbuds August Charts 2011 | Little White Earbuds  on September 2, 2011 at 10:03 AM

[…] Nebraska, “The Cruives” [Rush Hour Recordings] (buy) 07. Martyn, “Masks” [Brainfeeder] (buy) 08. Cavalier, […]

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