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  • Kutmah (pronounced KOOT-mah) has released numerous beat tapes, mixes, and EPs since the mid-2000s, and has long been associated with the Los Angeles beat scene, particularly with the online radio station Dublab. Amazingly, 2017 release TROBBB! is his proper full-length debut. The album was finished in Berlin, where Kutmah moved in 2016 after spending several years back in his native England following his deportation from the United States in 2010. Much of the album was composed during his very isolated first winter in Berlin, partially during a period when he had no communication with the outside world, and the album accordingly seems to have no correlation to any trends in music. It was released by the Ninja Tune-affiliated Big Dada, but it could've easily fit on illbient labels like WordSound and Asphodel during the late '90s. This is by no means a record of relaxed, feel-good breaks -- much of it is frigid, bitter, and detached. "Strangetown" sums up the album perfectly, with a shuddering, stammering kick drum, thick layers of static and eerie drone, and a nervous voice repeating "I'm in a strange town." There are moments of hopefulness, though -- Kutmah explains that as spring approached, he cheered up a bit, so the music became a bit lighter. One would guess that "Change Things" was a spring recording, as its titular sample is positively hopeful, and the scattered, collage-like production is a bit more upbeat and playful, featuring what sounds like seagulls and aerosol spray cans (and a glitched-out Erykah Badu sample) over a disjointed beat. The album features several guest vocalists, and these tracks range from the psychotic punk-rap "Cooler of Evidence" (with N8NOFACE) to Gonjasufi's sparse, spacious blues lament "Bury Me by the River." "Accounted For, Then To" features Jonwayne's clear, steady rapping over a sparkling tapestry of mellow soul samples, and "Herbal Tea Sessions" features Akello G Light's conversational, self-assured verses over light, rippling chimes and hand drums. Otherwise, a lot of the other vocal tracks are sinister and bracing, such as the haunted, muted electro-funk of "SwampThing" (with Zackey Force Funk). TROBBB! is a very uneasy, disjointed listen, and to make matters more complicated, the CD and vinyl editions have radically different track sequences. The double LP contains 31 selections, with most of the vocal-based cuts appearing on the second disc, while the CD version contains 25 tracks in a completely different order. For those brave enough to take the plunge, the album is an extended glimpse into a truly unique mind. ~ Paul Simpson
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