Hugh Hardie Makes The World Smile Yet Again

Posted by Ben on 4th June 2017

I love Hugh Hardie. Ever since that double bass on Tearing Me Apart, the Cambridge-born but Bristol-bound soul magician has consistently laid out his message for all to hear; drum n bass to make you laugh a bit, cry a lot and then come out smiling. We had chat with the man himself last year when his City Soul EP strolled around, a carefree bit of music that doesn’t need make-up or any superficial trappings to impress. So, I was hoping for more of the same with his album, a load of funky, summery tracks that would raise festival arms and lower car windows.

I was wrong to hope, because that’s not what Colourspace is.  True to his word, Hugh Hardie has come out with a diverse bag of textures and feelings, spanning multiple sections of the genre and all tightly produced to portray that Hardie vibe outside his usual sonic haunts. For those who loved the old school Hospital sound, it’s back with a vengeance here, and in every single one of Colourspace’s 13 tracks his understanding of what’s come before is clearly evident.

Love Troubles eases the album into life with bubbly samples and infectious percussion. The rippling piano build tells us that Hugh has really nailed the uplifting aspect of his music, crafting minute details and emphasising warm mids over harsh highs. A full-on summer special, I especially love the rustic guitar over the first breakdown that flicks samba funkiness all the way through into the second drop, a wonderfully melodic affair. Love Troubles is stereotypical Hugh Hardie and not even the tip of the iceberg.

The most populated track is She Moves, featuring GLXY with Zoe Phillips and 3-Card on mic duties in what is a movement-packed, rambunctious runner combining a whole host of different musical strands. GLXY carve their rolling edge into the fluid low end, flexing low frequency muscles with satisfying subtlety whilst the percussion feels more distinctly Hugh, clattering amens interspersed into refined drum patterns. Over the top go the vocalists, as Phillips’ echoing whispers fill in the gaps left by 3-Card’s American skewed hip-hop spew,  juxtaposing against each other in delightful fashion. She Moves is fantastic, an extremely unique mix of rolling drum n bass, hip hop and delicate vocal shimmers.

Now it’s time for Talk The Talk, which sees Hugh go darker than on any previous occasion and, oh my, is it brilliant. This tune is, from the onset, extremely powerful, relying on a bedrock of yet more pristine, forceful percussion. All the action, however, takes place in the low end, with pulsating bass curls and subterranean shudders all facing upwards at Dan Stezo’s brooding drawl. The interplay between the bassline and the vocals is superb, they both bring out the best of each other and I can’t think of a better mic-man for the job than Mr Stezo, who you should know from Lenzman’s infamous mix-tapes. Talk The Talk does murky stepper better than most, blowing away all those cobwebs that have built up after hundreds of similar but samey tracks.

Shades of Blue marks another departure from normality, drawing on the windswept beaches of Cornwall for inspiration and conjured up late in the album making process, Shades of Blue is deliciously down-tempo. Kimani’s vocals shine with pop-y sheen, but a backdrop of textured rolls and bassy lopes flip it completely, turning superficiality into something deep and introspective. This tune helps keep thing diverse, tempo wise especially, and whilst if you’re exclusively looking for drum n bass you might give this one a miss, it adds variety so you can’t complain.

There are plenty of other strong tracks on Colourspace, Reflection especially, a skittery roller with a superb double bass sample. Camera Obscura featuring Maverick Soul is a mash of clattering breaks and jungle flips, as is Sound System Dub, whilst Viridian slants towards the heavier side as well.

Hugh Hardie has well & truly dipped his finger in every pot to pull this one out, combining his early influences for that soulful edge on some, the local Bristol maelstrom with others and finally, developing fresh new iterations of his music. This is unarguably a solid album, and it’s available to buy now on iTunes.

Hospital RecordsHugh Hardie

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