DELS – Black Salad EP

At last, something new from Dels (aka Kieren Dickins), I have missed him. Dels appeared in the nick of time in my view, as British hip-hop started to be consumed by clichés and mediocrity. GOB was an electro-sprawl of noisy hooks and Dels’ intense delivery and lyrical imagination; it was, and is, ace.
‘Black Salad’ is a fresh track that drops in and out bringing new sounds or melodic features in, this is more of an intro to the EP but it is an indicator that Dels has been busy. The sound pallet is still draws on electro but it is less blocky and noisy.
‘Bird Milk’ has a swooping bass line and a range of bright, resonant percussive hits in the low end; this is in sharp contrast to the higher end which is a sawing, almost bubbling trip, delicately layered with the lower end – later there is even a glockenspiel. The instrumental track really progresses on here too, the groove stays (this track has a great groove) but evolves and morphs; its innovative and a real pleasure to hear. The latter quarter of the track is a down time instrumental feature which is well placed because it allows the track to breathe. There are some guest vocals on here too that appear in the chorus and are a good addition. It is not all about the instrumental obviously. The lyrics are still up to the high Dels standard, the content addresses Dels’ (or his persona’s) internal issues, or at least his experience of his issues versus what his is told, albeit with some injections of humour: ‘people say I’m anxious I think I’ve got to eat cheese less’. His word play feels more innovative overall, some of my favourite lines is: ‘melt down my main frame leave me with stress’ or: ‘As I rotate in the mirror looking possessed’ and I love the passing phrase ‘strangled by spaghetti’.
‘Not Today’ has a noisy, ambient texture but with a tactile, brittle snare hit that gradually draws in some other bass and feedback sounds. The lyrics again cover self-confidence and identity: ‘Not today, you won’t wipe the smile of my face’ ‘the way that I’m feeling, you’re feeling’. This track deals with Dels’ relation with the boss that he covered on GOB too, resisting negativity. This could be such a cliché by anyone else but this works – and I don’t say that every day. I like the way this track is structured too, there are less lyrics overall perhaps in favour of the main vocal hook but there are still some good images and excellent delivery. The lyrical content of this EP is more sombre; Dels is exploring himself and his angst throughout but not in a deliberately emotive fashion. Instead he chooses subtlety, hanging thoughts and ideas on carefully designed frameworks – you will be impressed by the imagery before you come to terms with its significance, I was.
‘Sell By Date’ is a short instrumental using the familiar fuzzy texture and the sampled plucking of a violin (I’m not sure what instrument it is exactly).
‘You Live in My Head’ is heavier with a pounding, tripping bass drum and bass line but with some lighter, dreamier sounds over the top from keyboards and a xylophone; perhaps with the intent of replicating, or translating Dels thoughts into a musical form. These lighter, brighter sounds increase in number and volume becoming intricate and delicate. This is a melancholic track in the end covering Dels belief that he is living an internal fantasy. There has been such thing as self questioning hip-hop, Atmosphere from Rhymesayers certainly are known for this but Dels makes his work very heartfelt, even shy at times.
I hope he realises his EP is pretty awesome, it is out on Big Dada Sound. Go geddit.


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