Review: Bullion – Magic Was Ruler (2011)
Through a hazy weave of richly layered samples and warbling synth-based loops, Bullion‘s 2011 release ‘Magic Was Ruler‘ plays in the territory somewhere between Dam Funk and David Byrne. A treat for the sample heads, lovers of the stranger side of future beats, and the musical oddballs among you.
Over every successive release over his still fresh discography, Londoner Bullion has continued to chip away a very unique niche within the sound-scape of modern beat-makers. 2009’s ‘Young Heartache’ got some attention for its massive dance-floor burners, 2010’s minor release ‘Say Goodbye to What’ hinted at a more genre-defying bent, but the new 4-track EP ‘Magic Was Ruler’ and its excellent sister mix ‘You Drive me to Plastic’, seems to announce itself loudly and proudly without pandering to the popular style of the moment.
‘Magic Was Ruler‘ might be a tricky little record to nail down, and for that reason may not click with many listeners immediately. Cheerfully anachronistic and upbeat in its synth-heavy sampling (no Lonnie Liston Smith or Roy Ayers here), it recalls the lavish stylings of the New Romantics & New Wave, the experimental Moog musicians of the 1960’s, Boards of Canada, 80’s electro, the freeform and genre-breaking sample-based producers of recent years, and the madly eclectic live performances of DJ Shadow & Cut Chemist.
And, even though it seems to fit within the same style, ‘Magic Was Ruler’ seems gleefully oblivious and charmingly geeky in comparison to the arrogant swagger and ‘cool’ of the Future-Beat genre. It might be a more comfortable listen if it had been on a longer length record, but Bullion presents as personal a vision and individual an approach as anything you can hear in sample-based music.