PROFESSOR ELEMENTAL AND HIS AMAZING FRIENDS PART 2 / ARTIST: PROFESSOR ELEMENTAL / LABEL: TEA SEA RECORDS / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW
The good Professor is one of the indefatigable features of Britain’s geeky music scene. Though perhaps still best known for his underground hit A Cup of Brown Joy, there’s much more to his work than a simple ode to tea and a pith helmet. His previous album, School of Whimsy, was a tour-de-force of the things that make him unique. Hip-hop fused with steampunk, flights of fancy, and a rallying call for nerds everywhere to relax and be themselves.
Amazing Friends Part Two sees our adventurous educator teaming up with various artists to provide a plethora of tracks. You can often judge a good artist by the strength of their collaborations; good creators tend to work well with others to produce something a little bit special, and this is readily apparent throughout the album. We either get guest vocals or a new producer. Or often both. Different and yet still very much in the distinctive ‘chap hop’ vein. The fourteen tracks contain a mix of motivational rants and whimsical storytelling. It’s an uplifting mix of tunes, all told.
Breaking it down, we open with the crowd pleasing opener Testify. It’s a fun bop but a bit forgettable, which is what you want for a first track, especially when you consider that Elemental does a lot of live shows. Housebound Hedonist is about having a ‘staycation’, the simple pleasures of staying at home and putting one’s feet up. This is where the Prof excels; his musical storytelling is excellent and funny. The guest vocals from Dr Syntax add a nice twist to it all. Tracks like Snake Oil, Make Good Art pt.3, and Tea Total lean into this strength. They’re entertainingly told short stories that also happen to be well produced and are very easy to listen to again and again.
Tracks like The Present and All I Need see the artist step out of their comfort zone into a more experimental (but still in style) place. These are pleasing because they’re different, but not terribly memorable. The stand out track here is Just like an Otter, which is both a fun story and the sort of ‘silliness you can dance to’ that the fans demand. The cover art is also a nice shout out to DC Comics’ Kingdom Come. In this age of everything being digital, it’s nice to see attention to detail on things like the album cover. It’s the sort of thing that would look nice on a wall.
Fans of Elemental will be pleased, and if you’re not familiar with the artist, try and catch him at one of his many live shows, it really is a lot of fun.