Released: 14 June 2019
Album Rating: 3.5/5
Live Potential: 4/5 (Live Set) 3.5/5 (DJ Set)
Diversity in Songs: 4.5/5
Favourite Songs: ‘Hard Rain’ (track 3), ‘Aesop Thought’ (track 7), ‘Almost Time’ (track 10)
Multi-instrumentalist, producer, DJ, and 22a label founder and boss, Tenderlonious (Ed Cawthorne) is back with a batch of new and old electronic tunes for 22a. This album marks a return to the studio for Tenderlonious and a sign of things to come from 22a. Hard Rain is the second album from the artist, which contrasts stylistically to his 2018 jazzy
debut LP The Shakedown with the 22archestra, as well as the release of Ironside with one of his other outfits Ruby Rushton earlier this year. Whilst deviating away from these projects, Hard Rain deftly blends, blurs and merges the UK urban jazz scene with its rooted electronic culture, demonstrating Tenderlonious’ command of both.
With Hard Rain, Tenderlonious dives through a diverse assortment of electronic genres, moving through house, techno, trance, trip-hop, futuristic funk, old-school synths and jazz influenced beats. Hard Rain feels like a homage to Tenderlonious’ early days listening to drum n bass and making electronic loops at his family home in Woking but also manages to feel explorative and outreaching.
The album opens with ‘Casey Jnr’ (track 1), marked by an eerie dissonant piano loop, building with cymbal taps, claps and beats before a low deviating synth takes control of the main groove. The title track and single, ‘Hard Rain’ (track 3), is one of the highlights of the record. The deep house tune is driven by a minimal pulsating beat and cavernous bass riff which is gradually supported by ethereal, cosmic and ambient synths, which automatically generates imagery of sci-fi and futuristic dystopian landscapes in the mind of the listener.
‘Another State of Consciousness’ (track 6) begins boldly, as fluctuating synths are interjected with fuzzy passages before a thick resonant beat intermingles with the layered chaotic synths that help turn the track into a techno-inspired frenzy.
Another highlight of the album is ‘Aesop Thought’ (track 7). The song begins with a dark and disturbing voice loop announcing the track title, before Tenderlonious’ defiant flute creates the melodic setting for the song whilst trancey beats team up with low grooves to create a memorable point within the album which you can’t help but feel the urge to move to. A hypnotic vibraphone loop melds together with a jolting groove and jazzy keys on ‘Workin Me Out’ (track 9). ‘Almost Time’ (track 10) brings the album to a close, with a warm vintage saxophone sample being paired with a reverberating bassy beat, as a figure repeatedly announces “It’s Almost Time” before the track and album sharply comes to a stop.
Hard Rain is an interesting insight into the world of the tireless Tenderlonious, who is often regarded to be one of the hardest working people within the UK indie scene. Structurally, Hard Rain struggles to stitch together an overall narrative, feeling more like two EPs put together, with one being a more purely electronic project and the other being more jazz influenced. This element is, of course, unsurprising, as the album is pitched as a collection of old and new studio productions from the artist. However, what is resoundingly clear is Tenderlonious’ ability to look at music in a non-linear fashion and manipulate beats in a refreshing way. Through exploring and merging genres and by not bending to conformity, Hard Rain demonstrates the direction which Tenderlonious and 22a are heading, and we are very optimistic and excited to see where this journey will lead.
All songs written, arranged & performed by Tenderlonious.
Listen to Hard Rain here: https://open.spotify.com/album/2vGR4M2Zb9wHCfZFkpSUEc?si=DWR7f7BNSxaG2QBTvVxWmw
Purchase Hard Rain here: https://tenderlonious.bandcamp.com/album/hard-rain