South London-based artist Greentea Peng has been at the forefront of the UK’s recent soul and dub-inspired sound for a few years now. Her psychedelic and hypnotic sound over the years has helped her garner quite a dedicated and passionate following, and with the release of her new album MAN MADE, she has taken her music to new heights with a cohesive, mesmeric new project, combining groovy, guitar and bass-driven rhythms with dub-influenced drumming. Despite its 1 hour runtime, the quality of music on this album makes it all worth it, with some of the most intricate and sonically layered soul music I’ve heard this year.
Kicking the album off with “Make Noise”, the moody and subtle instrumental leaves Greentea Peng the space to sing and make noise for front-line workers this year, all artists, activists and those who have helped make a society a better place. It’s a fitting message and soundscape for the difficult year we’ve all had, and it’s fitting that this album is out at a time where restrictions are slowly lifting and we’re seeing more hope of things opening back up again. The horns and keys on “This Sound” are incredible, with a cacophony of sounds that amalgamate into this beautiful and inspiring track. “Free My People” featuring Simmy & Kid Cruise is exceptional too, a tribute to all those fighting for their freedoms in the UK. The dynamic, 2-step beat here is phenomenal as well. The almost trap-influenced and Swindle-produced “Be Careful” features this incredible flute piece with frantic drums as well. Despite the UK being viewed as a free democracy (which is a joke if we’re being real), minority groups (those who aren’t white, basically) need to be careful with what they say online as they could suffer consequences, and this is a genuine problem. The playful “Nah It Ain’t The Same” is another stellar track, with groovy basslines that perfectly capture this soulful and infectiously funky sound. The drums on “Suffer” and the spoken-word flow of Greentea Peng’s vocals – a prominent theme throughout this album, makes for an engaging listen. She shares her vulnerabilities and fears on this album perfectly too. The live drumming on “Mataji Freestyle” is phenomenal too, with a subtle, mesmeric sound that is just too smooth. The more upbeat and dynamic “Kali V2” is beautiful too, with keys and programmed drumming adding to her lavish vocal performance, and the colourful, summertime vibe is just perfect for this hot weather. The jazzy and bouncy new-swing vibe on “Satta” is another great moment on the album, while “Dingaling” is another dynamic moment on the album, a love song that captures the effortless soul of her aura. The guitar-heavy “Maya” is great too, while “Man Made” and “Meditation” feature more ethereal and atmospheric soundscapes that are a welcome change of pace from the more dynamic and beat-heavy music. The rhythms, especially on the latter track are so soothing, subtle, yet punchy and just incredible throughout. The guitar-heavy “Simmer” is another crazy moment on the album, while the intense and rhythmic “Jimnastic Blues” is an exceptional way to close the album. The way the guitar leads come in, combined with her incredible vocal performance is crazy. It captures the intensity, soul and atmospheric tone of the album as a whole perfectly, and it is indicative of Greentea Peng’s incredible musicianship and talented team of creatives around her.
Overall, MAN MADE is raw, dynamic and utterly mesmeric new album. Greentea Peng’s ability to combine more subtle and atmospheric moments with punchier, politically charged ones is fantastic, all within an eclectic sonic palette that is perfect for the summer. A truly exceptional body of work by one of the UK’s most exciting musicians. Go Support!