The Surgeon (Decapitated Heady Zing) – 5G4B (reviewed by Dave Franklin)

You start to think that perhaps there are no new musical territories to be explored by 5G4B‘s mercurial music. That he may have already mined out the weirder fringes of soul, drum and bass, hip-hop, dance, pop and funk. That he has cross-pollinated, collided and (con)fused what he found there into all the new sonic shapes imaginable. But whereas Alexander The Great reportedly “wept, seeing that there were no more worlds to conquer,” 5G4B instead turns back on the musical territory he has already tamed and conducts a whole new serious of gene-splicing experiments there.

We find ourselves travelling through some drum and bass pastures just as we did with Ridin’ With The BassLION but just as before, it is an increasingly warped, ornate and textured version of that genre that we are presented with. Some things are familiar, the brooding, dark-funk bass line and that glorious chainsaw sample, which puts an interesting question mark over just what type of surgery is being performed here. Other things are new, even considering the massive sonic palette that we have already encountered, and now we find afro-beat tribal rhythms, off-kilter latin grooves, half-buried chiming keyboards and all round voodoo vibes filling the air.

5G4B has always made music which seems to be tightly woven together, long and elaborate music statements woven out of numerous threads, complex and compelling. Here, especially as the song heads for the finish line, things seem to get even more dark and claustrophobic. Not through the volume or power of any one element or instrument, but you can sort of feel the weight of the song pressing further down, the complexities merging into claustrophobia…never chaos, he’s smarter than that…and the surroundings getting more resistant to the light of the outside world.

And this is where he plays his cleverest trick. Humour. Anyone making music which wanders such byzantine territory, uses such complex combinations, which slowly seems to descend into an underworld of its own making, would rightly attract accusations of being over-earnest or of taking themselves too seriously. 5G4B has always avoided this through the use of humour. Why else would you hear the sound of a chainsaw every time the word surgery is mentioned? The humour might not always be obvious, more sort of an on-going, in-joke, but once you get it you feel part of a  V.I.P. group…vocally impressive punning?…perhaps even smarter than the other listeners. Admit it, that’s a nice feeling, right?

The Surgeon is the sound of our hero not so much exploring the fringes of popular music but the ground beneath its feet. Whilst most are content to take the easy route, to follow well trodden paths, to stay very much on grid and in sight of their destination, here is someone deliberately making it hard on themselves, willing together a bit lost in it all but in doing so finding unexpected sonic riches. This is someone prepared to break a sweat, dig deep and get his hands dirty. 

Oscar Wilde once said that “we are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars.” 5G4B  is below the gutter, he is mining rich creative seams miles below the mainstream surface. And for that, he is already a star.

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