Adding to the growing roster at Verb T’s In the Balance Records is Rye Shabby. With his recently released seven track EP entitled Arthur Lager, Rye has affirmed his position on this reputable label. Behind the EP lies a humorous back story documenting a journey into the unknown. From selling dodgy Rolex’s in Ipswich to a whirlwind romance with a Kate Moss impersonator in Moscow, Rye invites the listener to relive this journey with him in sonic form.
The journey begins with the opening track, ‘Moscow’. A chilled, melodic beat produced by Verb T accentuates Rye’s distinctive and raspy tone. Kicking off his narrative with the opening rhyme, “Im staring at the walls of sativa / an ordinary geezer / Tripping out I must be / Fuck it don't touch me…or talk to me either”, Rye effectively sets the solitary scene of being a “stranger in Moscow”. In a similar fashion to Ed Scissortongue, Rye exhibits a level of sombre introspection through his descriptive rhymes, and this is often made more prominent over a melancholic beat.
Arguably this is most clear in the second track on the EP, ‘Kate Moss’. Opening with a (carrying) sample from the chilling, dentist scene in ‘Marathon Man’, Laurence Olivier’s voice states “life can be that simple; relief, discomfort”. The accompanying video, directed by Aboveground, effectively mirrors this dichotomy between relief and discomfort as it portrays a tumultuous relationship between Rye and the eponymous girl who “thinks she’s Kate Moss”. It could be argued that the essence of this theme is visually captured by the camera flipping 180 degrees at one point. Muckaniks is the producer behind this one, and he establishes a significant boom bap element in the track which, when coupled with the haunting flute-like sound, enables Rye’s distinctive tone to have a mesmerizing effect on the listener.
Although I loved the multifaceted dimension to ‘Kate Moss’, my personal favourite on the EP has to be ‘Face the World’. Also produced by Muckaniks, a boom bap influence is combined with a simple, soothing piano sample that helps to make this a sit back, meditative beat. Rye adjusts to the slower tempo with a more refined delivery, and this allows him to demonstrate not only his rhyme scheme versatility (“dirt and mud / sea worms and slugs / not gold, hot souls / on Persian rugs”) but also his soulful voice that he utilizes on the hook. Rye flits from this soulful hook back to assured mic presence with ease, leaving the listener in an almost trancelike state by the end of the penultimate track on the EP.
The remaining tracks on the EP feature the production talents of illinformed, Verb T and Sloth of Indigo Frequency. Together, they play a major role in shaping the sonic landscape in which Rye’s journey is replayed and bring a unique quality to each track.
Arthur Lager was released on February 24th, and is available on limited edition CD and cassette, as well as a digital download on Bandcamp, Spotify and iTunes.
By Ivo Parker | Loose Lips
1. Moscow 01:57
2. Kate Moss 03:39
3. Heat 02:49
4. Trench Coat 03:11
5. Black is the New Black (feat. Verb T) 03:11
6. Face the World 03:25
7. CONscience Circles 02:33