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It always pissed me off when people referred to the hip-hop I loved circa turn of the century as 'backpacker'. However you understand that term, it suggests that the artist and the consumer are in some way just passing through; as if we were all just tourists uncommitted to any particular geographic art scene, as if bands and genres evolve out of the particular geological formation that makes their locale unique. As if there can only be a NY scene and a Dalston scene and a Trafford scene.

A specific kind of electronic, instrumental hip-hop developed out of that fin de siecle world. Influenced by Uncut as much as it was by Warp, successive artists tried to weave something of the live funk and soul bands that toured student unions up and down the land in with cutting edge electronica. What you ended up with was eclectic, not always enjoyable spacejunk like Lemon Jelly, Prefuse 73, and Kelpe.

The Curved Line subtly pushes the Korg and beat-driven structures that Kelpe thrives in towards a more recognisable tech-house. Funny freaks like 'Chirpsichord' are studded with maximalist beat patterns, burbling patches layered onto a patchwork quilt. There's very little that is played as inherently cool – the producer is having far too good a time to worry about downplaying his hand or preaching to the street. A carefree, freewheeling spirit reigns.

There are the usual nods to AFX and Braindance, and a liberal and slightly unnecessary use of side chain. The giddy mid-range keyboard wanderings on 'Sick Lickle Thing' come with what sound like live takes of MIDI samba drums; moments like this emerge all over the place, like Kelpe decided to track a bunch of rough chord structures before returning to ornate them with humour and rhythmic flourishes to liven up the whole. It sounds like a bunch of fun was had getting it sounding exactly right.

'Red Caps of Waves' sounds like an Earl Sweatshirt instrumental, which probably says more about how unoriginal Earl is than Kelpe, who has been making this kind of beat since almost the turn of the century. All it's missing is a misogynist lyric and stupidly pitched down refrain. To clarify - it really doesn't miss this.

All this talk of humour leads to the obvious question; is he still taking the piss? Partly. Kelpe has thankfully toned down the loopy vocal samples since his debut (which was knee deep in non sequiturs). It unfortunately also has the effect of concentrating the gaze a little too keenly on what remains, which can't always hold up to repeated listens. As fun as it is, a great deal of The Curved Line feels too laid-back to be spectacular. Only occasionally does it seem like it might be ready to explode, as in the mid-section of 'Drums For Special Effects', but the order to charge is never given. While you're tapping your foot along to the scatology, it's a giddy ride. It may not be bold enough to live long in the memory.

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