reviewed by Anna Alger
A year on from the release of his debut EP, All Nighter, Vancouver’s Mr. Stee has grown his sound via experimentation and hard work, culminating in the release of his debut full-length, Searching. A pioneer in instrumental hip hop, utilizing live guitar and bass tracks, Mr. Stee is creating an enveloping and relaxed sound.
Chilled out horns couple with a beat that gradually becomes more intricate on the album’s first track, “Solstice.” It has elements of jazz and soul, along with a sampled female vocal. “Candlelight” stands out from the beginning of the track, which samples Kate Bush’s “Delius.” Curious yet steady, the song has a calming effect. “Flying” mixes pop and indie rock guitars with a downtempo beat, sounding distinctly melancholy. There are moments in the record that are akin to the delicate and minimalistic songs on Broken Social Scene’s “Feel Good Lost.”
Sometimes the music is almost begging for a vocal line or rap verse, as with “In Here.” However, choosing to write instrumental tracks allows their strength to be the focus of the music. This is seen when live bass drives the pop funk of “Perfume,” which features a crisp and pleasant beat.
Mr. Stee creates a multilayered sound on Searching, an auditory record of the pathway to finding his own sound. Putting elements of hip hop, soul, jazz, pop, and indie rock together to create a sample driven record – with live instrumentation as well – displays the versatility of the artist.
Top Tracks: “Perfume,” “Candlelight”
Rating: Strong Hoot (Good)