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!