Switched On – Daniel Patrick Cohen: We Deliver (Backlash Music)

Reviewed by Ben Hogwood

What’s the story?

When making his new album We Deliver, Daniel Patrick Cohen became obsessed with short tracks whose function would be to act as bridges between album tracks, or introductions to more substantial offerings. As his love of this form grew, he developed a great respect for 20th century hip hop producers and their ability to write focused interludes that became a work in themselves.

Resolving to write an album based on the form, Cohen describes his new release as ‘a lo-fi work entirely made up of these throwaway-type tracks. My intention is explicitly for it to be exactly the sort of weirdo record that an imaginative producer may find a dynamite sample from’.

What’s the music like?

On the evidence of We Deliver, Cohen’s wish may be granted – for this is a fascinating and invigorating set of 32 tracks, with a myriad of guests and a huge range of styles. Cohen’s magpie approach works especially well though, and the well chosen guests bring a great deal of character and humour to proceedings.

A word about those guests – especially vocalist Alice Zawadzki, saxophonist Joe Wright, multi-instrumentalist Dan Berry, violinist Róisín Walters and pianist Alexandra Făgărășan. Zawadzki is the vocalist stopping the listener in their tracks on Wild fig and ginger handwash, while the vocalist on the humourous Shopping With Violence is James Murray, who picks up the amusing track as an answerphone message later on. It is genuinely difficult to pick out highlights from the album but it is certainly worth mentioning the good deal of wah wah funk applied to That’s not how it works in this world I’m afraid, and the really nice, slightly warped play on the vocals of Puteți avea o familie fericită.

The pizzicato strings and the odd jarring noise of Wait your kid here are distinctive, cutting to a flowing piano on Buy priority through security. The hesitant wind instrument choir on Change the sentences so they have the same meaning are rather charming, as is the lovely coarse violin from Walters on the intriguingly titled They are a nuisance and a possible health hazard. Meanwhile the vibrant strings and piano of Repeat, producing a rich lather (!) are also winsome.

Does it all work?

It does – Cohen leaves you wanting more at the end, in spite of 32 tracks! Often the ideas are good enough to support more substantial pieces of work, and occasionally you will be left wishing he had developed his thoughts more. That said, sticking to the rules of duration is crucial in this sort of album, and it works a treat.

Is it recommended?

It is, enthusiastically, as music with a light touch but also a great deal of content. Cohen marshals his troops brilliantly – and as such his playlist for Arcana should also be recommended!

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Playlist – Daniel Patrick Cohen

Daniel Patrick Cohen. Picture credit Alexandra Făgărășan

Arcana is delighted to hand our playlist baton over to Daniel Patrick Cohen, whose fascinating new album We Deliver is on our own playlist for review shortly.

Cohen, a Londoner living in Romania, has a particular love for film music and hip hop, and wrote a substantial score for Alfred Hitchcock’s The Pleasure Garden, as part of the British Film Institute’s Rescue The Hitchcock 9 enterprise, where composers were invited to score the director’s silent films.

With We Deliver, Cohen writes a love letter to hip hop in the form of a 32-track album featuring 67 musicians, described as a lo-fi work entirely made up of throwaway-type tracks that a hip hop producer might have written.

His playlist, then, contains 15 such ‘throwaway’ tracks, including inspired examples from the likes of Daft Punk, J Dilla, Radiohead, Björk and even Mozart alongside five of his own compositions blended in to reveal the loose connections. He elaborated for us:

“The idea is that these tracks were moments of magic which I imagine captured the mood on a day so perfectly that they resisted being developed and expanded. I think it’s worth elaborating that there’s nothing “lazy” about them; on the contrary, one could spend a lifetime waiting for these moments!”