An inventive showcase of what’s possible when armed with just a sampler, a few studio toys and a fertile imagination, Paul White & The Purple Brain is the intriguing sophomore album from South London producer Paul White, and the only album the producer released on Now-Again.
A collaboration of sorts, the entire record is based around and inspired by the work of little-known Swedish psych-rock guru S.T. Mikael. Heavy on Eastern influences and otherworldly concerns, Mikael’s music ranges from searing electric guitar-led dirges to dreamlike ballads to ghostly atmospheric experiments – sometimes all within the same song. The strange and wonderful home recordings of this cult hero have been issued in tiny quantities since the 1990s on the Subliminal Sounds label.
Having been granted access to S.T. Mikael’s back catalogue, Paul White found a unique source of inspiration and challenged himself to create an album using the Swedish multi-instrumentalist’s work as the sole basis for his output. The result is Paul White & The Purple Brain – a remarkably diverse album that defies easy categorisation. Marshen Signals brings to mind the brooding atmospherics and jeep-rattling bass of mid-90s D.I.T.C. productions, whilst Alone Again nods to the pioneers of the BBC Radiophonic Workshop. Sitar-led tracks such as Pride share common ground with the likes of ‘60s English psych band July and My Guitar Whales – the first single to be taken from the album – could be a classic rap banger remixed for a Hungarian fairground.
Praised as someone who “embodies all that is good about a new generation of producers” (Dazed & Confused), Paul White has won over fans of left-leaning sounds and interesting hip-hop, including Diplo, Mary Anne Hobbs, Benji B and Gilles Peterson. His 2009 debut album The Strange Dreams of Paul White introduced a hip-hop producer with a deft touch, a quirky sense of humour and a refreshing lack of regard for the conventions of the genre. There was also something very British about his avoidance of the traditional soul, jazz and funk sample sources of his hip-hop forebears in favour of prog and psychedelic rock, reggae and the abandoned vinyl of English charity shops.