DELS - Black Salad [EP]
As much as I liked last year's GOB, it never got aired because I could never find a mood or situation to press that play button in. Mid-way through 2010 the broadsheets got very excited when they heard about DELS. This was a university-educated graphic designer from Ipswich creating British rap music that flew in the face of the London stereotypes of the time. They had found their talisman.
Unfortunately, the british public didn't take to the album. By-and-large if you mention DELS, real name Kieren Dickins, to a mate they usually just repeat Adele's name back at you. All this may explain why for Dickins latest EP, he's switched things up a little. The Black Salad EP does away with Joe Goddards clean electro-pop production and lets Kwes (the producer of some of the darker toned tracks from GOB) take the helm (update: along with Coby Sey, James Spankie and Raisa Khan) .
The result is a more introspective DELS. He seems to have taken a couple of pages from the book of Peanut Butter Blues and Melancholy Jam, if not a chapter. Ghostpoet's mercury nominated debut has obviously had an effect on Dickins.
The eponymous album opener sets the stage. Kwes' immediately raises his hand as the dark horse to stand out on the EP after maybe getting little credit for the songs he did produce on GOB. Nevertheless, the single 'Bird Milk' makes its presence known. Dickens' ever so slightly off the beat/spoken word flow may bring the aforementioned Ghostpoet to mind, and there's no doubt that they are each others closest rivals; with DELS being the PES to Ghostpoets FIFA. Only not as crap as PES.
Whilst 'Not Today' is perfectly ok, that's it. I won't bring you-know-who up again, but faced with the choice between the two there's no contest. You won't be making notes of the lyrics in your phone any time soon, but you'll still find yourself nodding along without realising. 'You Live In My Head' then is the closing track of this EP. Sure it sounds near identical to a certain track from a mercury nominated artist, but the song takes you to a darker corner of Dickins mind. Unfortunately, that glimpse only lasts a fraction of the song.
If you were excited for a DELS EP and a taste of what's to come from the man, you may be disappointed. If on the other hand you're a production geek (in the nicest possible way) and wanted to hear more of Kwes, it's the perfect showcase for him. It's hard to rate this as Dickens own EP, Kwes seems to dominate; and aside from 'Bird Milk' there's little to hold the interest for fans of DELS unique talent to put words to images of dreams.
It's a shame but Kwes isn't revolutionary, or even really that unique enough to make Dickins step out of the limelight and surrender his EP.