DVA, or Leon Smart, is known as one of the pioneers in shaping London's game-changing Rinse FM. After lingering for a while in the field, producing tracks for the likes Wiley he has finally decided to put out his own record, Pretty Ugly. With influences from old-school hip to full scale techno, the final product is a diverse amalgamation of wavering futuristic sounds.
'Polyphonic Dreams' being the epitome of these space-likes sounds. Picture yourself sat in The International Space Centre. These are the kinds of noises and outbursts you'd expect to here. If there was a new Back to the Future, I'd give Smart the keys to the DeLorean. In cases, this is just a little bit too stressful for the mind to process. 'Bare Fuzz', a technological jungle filled with these intonations is a track that tends to reach no peak, the same can be said of songs such as the lyrically inept 'Why U Do' and dreamy 'The Big 5ive'.
Probably the most interesting track on the L.P. is 'Just Vybe' featuring Fatima, a regular guest MC on Rinse FM. Fatima's soulful tones combined with 'Just Vybe’s' deep bass-lines form a platform which is only excelled in the case, by the wobbling sounds. I only wish it was a little bit longer.
The anthemic beginning to 'Where I Belong' is somehow ruined by the fact that it appears as the final track on the album and, although you could argue that has no real affect listening to the album as a piece of music as a whole, this is in keeping with the style. A far more darker and less-layered track, with an almost operatic feel.
'Reach The Sun', the stand-out ambient track with a techno-twist, creates an audio illusion through its elegantly produced rhythm, something which is not in keeping throughout the record.
The respect for DVA is extremely high, Rinse FM has become game-changing for the UK market in underground electronic and hip hop and some say influential in the emergence of dubstep. The record however, is underwhelming. In my opinion, it is too much an experimentation or working project, than a complete record. Some definite glimmers of brilliance and standout tracks, but all in all this is a collective of misplaced sounds.