Mura Masa – Mura Masa Review 

Alex Crossan is a 20 year old producer from Guernsey and goes by the name of Mura Masa. His self titled debut studio album has been a few years coming and in that time he’s went far from the typical tales of bedroom recordings. His suggested talent is matched by the calibre his collaborators for his debut album that include Damon Albarn, A$AP Rocky and Christine and the Queens to name just a few. He has a lot of backing already and a lot of time to promote his sound with singles and EP’s that included collaborations with Charli XCX. With that in mind, the expectation is high. The key for an artist like Alex is of course finding the right artists to complement his sound and he’s effectively giving parts of his album away and entrusting it to someone else. That should be taken into account too before passing too much judgement. 

‘Second 2 None’ features Christine and the Queens. Christine or Heloise Letissier when she’s off stage, had shown last year how adaptable and slick her work was in a variety of musical environments and Alex provides another with this track. This track features faux kettle drums, trap drops and distorted beats. This is fused with a broken string sample and from there Christine shines. The heavy, and at times simple arrangement allows her to take command of the song with her imposing accented vocal which fits into the intricate harmonies Alex’s production creates. He even uses her vocals as an added layer of instrumentation in the form of vocal sample. The track is subdued and restrained, yet still retains prominent hooks and a Pop infectiousness. The album concludes with ‘Blu’ featuring Damon Albarn. Alex’s distorted and auto-tuned vocals whirr and twitch as Albarn’s equally warped vocals join in harmony. Damon’s vocals gradually lose their electronic effects as the verse goes on however. The two constantly shifting vocals are manipulated to compliment each other at all times and the soft churning electronica nudges the song along. ‘1 Night’ is the minimalist dance track that features Charli XCX and again he utilises her vocals as an instrumental tool on top of typical Pop beats that sit well with Charli’s bold Pop vocals. What is impressive about this song is the lack of parts to it and an attention to small details and changes that most Pop songs do not have. 

There is more to this album than just well produced Pop music though; ‘Nothing Else!’ featuring soul singer Jamie Lidell is a slick and rhythmic affair with which he manipulates bass lines and guitars to generate a late Eighties style with prominent modern features. ‘Helpline’ features Tom Tripp and his lyrics are fitted around a driving and unrelenting rhythm driven by bass lines and percussion. The percussion is gradually muffled at the end of each verse to signal the synth driven chorus. This track shows the versatility of Alex in that his tracks are more than moody and well produced affairs. ‘Firefly’ features vocals from the talented NAO and here he created an AlunaGeorge type track in how it openly embraces its Dance features. Meanwhile ‘Love$ick’ featuring A$AP Rocky is a cool yet inctricate track that tailors its soundscapes for Rap sections and it again shows his versatility with different artists and genres. No matter who it is, he seems to generate hooks out of them one way or another. His method could be seen as a little repetive at times as those faux kettle drums get rolled out once or twice too often, but for a debut album sound that can be forgiven. It is a solid start and from here, he can only go on to refine and redefine his sound and if he does this right, he could be our next great producer. 

Mura Masa – Mura Masa = 8/10

Owen Riddle

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