A few things happen when I listen to anything by The Mystery Plan. I brace for the unexpected. I think back to the sort of music being made on indie labels of my formative years, music that set me on a certain musical path. I expect to fall in love with what follows. That is what experience has taught me, at least.
And in the case of Silver Lining, I still do all of those things even though the music comes from an even more unexpected place. Musically it still leans into their drifting and ambient creative urges, celestial voices shimmer, harps chime and basses pulse and groove. But this time out the beats seem to come from a more urban, R&B infused and influenced sort of place and the vocals, courtesy of Big Supreme, come in the form of dexterous rap flows dancing over the top of the ethereal middle ground.
It’s a fantastic juxtaposition, to say the least. The cool, ambient sonic filling of the song both blends and contrasts brilliantly with the more stark sound of the rap and the beat on either side of it. It shouldn’t work but somehow it does. And does so brilliantly.
Here, The Mystery Plan join dots linking everything from 70’s conscious soul and R&B, 80’s indie, particularly that of certain small, underground labels, 90’s trip-hop and more contemporary rap and hip-hop styles. You will probably recognise every sonic element you hear on Silver Lining but you will never have heard them keeping the musical and creative company that it does here. Invention might be the name of the game but re-invention and cross-pollination is a whole lot more tantalising concept.