When two of the great production wizards of this generation come together on a collaborative project, you listen. I’ve been a fan of both Oli and Max for about 6-7 years now probably, and I’ve seen them evolve their sound and artistry so much over that period of time. Oliver Palfreyman’s hard-hitting, often industrial and experimental sound, taking his main inspirations from UK garage and hip-hop, is combined with Maxwell Owin’s similarly dynamic and rhythmic sound to create this warped-out, interstellar new project titled What is That Sound?. Made between 2017-2022 using a range of electrical tools and methods and pulling from many sources and sounds, they are showing up glimpses of what the future of music sounds like, and I couldn’t be more excited for both of them.
The opener “SLOWMO” features moody piano keys and a soul sample that is looped perfectly between the warm keys and angelic synths, making it a perfect tone-setter for the album. The beat on this track is exceptional too. The Limmy excerpts sampled throughout are amazing and pretty hilarious, and add to the moody, somewhat dystopian vibe of the music. The broken-beat, fast-paced groove of “GAVINS PEOPLE” is just exquisite, with subtle keys adding to the aura of the sound as a whole. “NO LESS” has heavy, dense production, with a striking sound that just captivates from start to finish. The basslines on this track are just exceptional. The urgency of “DRAINCLEANER” is almost unsettling, with jumpy, jittery and nervous production that is just crafted together so incredibly well. “SHIBBOLETH”, which is produced by Rago Foot, is a sample-heavy, synth-led track that features some subtle percussion (or at least that’s what it sounds like), and this heavy synth lead that takes over the second half of the track. The intensity of “MAMMOTH” is fucking insane – just non-stop, bass-heavy beats that are congested to allow no space for anything to breathe, apart from the occasional synth melody or sample. Same with “TRACK SIDE”, and even more so with “DURGE”, which is this noisy, abrasive, almost disoriented track that is just relentless in its intense energy. The playful energy of “LET GO” sounds is a nice break from the high-intensity madness of the previous tracks (with piano contribution from Joe Armon-Jones), and “W8 AND WONDER” closes the album out in a beautifully reflective way, with an incredible beat is complemented by the angelic synths and guitars that capture the soulful, moody tone of the UK underground.
This shit slaps. It’s crazy how good both Oliver Palfreyman and Maxwell Owin can be as beatmakers, musicians and artistic visionaries. What is That Sound? you ask? It’s the sound of two geniuses at work, crafting soundscapes that are bold and adventurous, creating melodies, beats and grooves that are thrilling to listen to and experience. Go check Oliver Palfreyman and Maxwell Owin’s new project What is That Sound? below via Bandcamp, and don’t forget to support!