Paul White – Rejuvenation

South London’s Paul White has been recognized as something of a beatmaking mad scientist, in that he’s able to work and shift himself between a variety of different production styles and sounds whilst never losing himself in the mix, although he generally tends to lean on the more psychedelic side of things.

Throughout his career White has also gained a reputation not just for collaborating and contributing to albums with some of the biggest names in American underground rap world like Open Mike Eagle, Homeboy Sandman and the late Sean Price, his beats have the ability to draw out and accentuate the best quality of rappers whose styles might be considered idiosyncratic while not getting in the way.

But the most recognised of all of Whites collaborators has to be Detroit rapper Danny Brown whose work with him goes back to his 2011 breakout album “XXX” White produced 10 of the 15 songs on Brown’s 2016 album “The Atrocity Exhibition” which saw him showing off what he was capable of doing going switching from sounds like Detroit ghettotech, unnerving prog rock and whatever else he could use in his arsenal.

However on this album White has decided to go in a different direction whereas The Atrocity Exibition was a sample heavy, dizzying soundtrack to Brown’s self-destruction, on this album he decided to leave behind his sampler and to write, play and produce the album by himself and the result of it is quite startling.

While White may not be the most technically proficient musician (his drumming on this could be best described as a bit leaden) he more than makes up for it in terms of establishing a mood and a sense of groove throughout, songs feel naturalistic, given more room to breathe compared to last album, the interlocking guitars on “Returning” feel cyclical, with drums building off of them for an incessant groove that doesn’t overwhelm the ground set by them.

There’s bits of guitar,swirling keyboards both digital and analogue, White even sings on the song “Soul Reunion” he doesn’t have the most commanding voice but it works towards his advantage in that it blends in and floats through the soft arrangements of the tune.

On this album he is assisted by contributions from, South African poet Shungudzo (whose appearance on Ice Cream Man one of the two vocal songs she contributes to might be the most lucid moment of the whole album) aswell his sister Sarah Williams White, the song “Laugh With Me” is one of the two pop focused songs on the album but still carries the vibe of early morning glow.  The other song being “See Through” which is sang by British-Jamaican singer Denai Moore is slightly more grounded but is all about a lover being able to get past her image and look deeper to what is “the real her”.

If there was anything this album (and a decent portion of Whites work) has the closest kinship to it would be that of singer-songwriter Todd Rundgren, while it would be really easy to compare “Rejuvenation” to Rundgren’s most acclaimed album “Something/Anything?”. Rejuvenation feels more like a meeting point between the more freewheeling elements of his early 70’s albums(Todd, A Wizard, A True Star) and his more straight ahead pop focused albums of the mid to late 70’s like The Hermit of Mink Hollow.

Fans of White’s prior works may take issue with the fact that things aren’t as abrasive compared to his previous works but for those who are open minded enough may take this as a surprise left turn from a man who has built his career of making them.  For people who are looking for an easy way in to his catalogue this may be the most accessible work that he has done so far in his career and have a lot to gain from digging deeper into the work of one of the most unpredictable producers around.

Written by /
Published /
May 29
Category /
Album Review