At the age of 17, a teenager by the name of Alex Crossan, living on the remote island of Guernsey on the coast of France, started releasing electronic music he created on his laptop on Soundcloud, by the name of Mura Masa. It was a name inspired by Japanese sword-smith Muramasa Sengo, as he envisioned his music to “cut like a knife”. Now at the age of 21, Crossan’s self-titled debut album truly lives up to the inspiration of its name, as his signature oriental-fused, glitchy electronica receives help from an astonishingly star-studded array of artists from all genres, and grows into a body of work that resembles one vibrant, never-ending dancefloor rave.
There’s never a boring moment on ‘Mura Masa’, and one thing that helps is the amount of musical ground covered in the record. “If you grew up in London’s East End you’d probably be inclined to be into something like grime music, but if you’re removed from it, you’re not tied down to any genre or any scene,” Crossan said in his interview with BBC, crediting his huge set of influences to his hometown. This variety of everything from dance to hip-hop and pop is shown even only in the opening of the record – opener ‘Messy Love’ warms up the dancefloor with breathy, airy vocals from the producer himself. Then, ‘Nuggets’ features Dublin singer Bonzai, whose flow in the verses resembles the smoothness of Azealia Banks, brings up the groove with it’s densely packed bass lines. ‘1 Night’ is the pop moment that comes shortly after, recruiting none other than Charli XCX at her purely fun state that’s always nice to have back, yet after that it drifts and drives straight into trap-infused hip-hop, although here the Mura Masa edge gets slightly submerged under all those Desiigner ad-libs and tongue rolling.
Riding on the rising “bedroom producer” genre, where aspiring producers self-learn creating music usually just out of interest, and start gaining traction with the help of streaming services and music blogs, Crossan fully embraces the new generation of youth. Every cut of the record emits a refreshing sense of life and energy with his producing of consistently cutting beats throughout; The finger-snapping house beat in ‘Firefly’, featuring fellow new artist NAO, still sounds fresh as when it’s released in his ‘Someday Somewhere’ EP in 2015. Moreover, while despite the list of high-profile features, he mostly doesn’t let his crew take over his spotlight (bar ‘All Around The World’ mentioned above, but in that case it’s not a particularly dazzling spotlight anyway), but if anything he takes the shining elements of his features and uses it to his own. Take ‘Second 2 None’ and its vocals provided by Christine and the Queens for example: the sophisticated, alluring sensuality of her voice gets her time in the chorus, then Crossan’s percussion creeps up and takes over for a choppy electronic showdown, amping up the greatness of both.
The slow electro ballad ‘Blu’ which closes the album deserves its own mention too, a perfect cherry on top near the lights on moment as the disco is near empty. The song recruits Damon Albarn, as Crossan revealed the first album he ever bought was ‘Demon Days’ by Gorillaz themselves, as they create a melancholic closer with Albarn’s bubbly, sultry vocals, after a record that solely consisted of huge and energetic beats, which is beautiful and memorable in its way.
Essentials: 1 Night, Nuggets, Second 2 None
(7.5 / 10)