ASM take on 2019 with a point to prove. Their first release on Chinese Man Records, and fourth full-length album of their careers, “Color Wheel” marks a new direction for the international purveyors of sophisticated, ultra-lyrical boom-bap fusion. Whilst rooted in the same organic old school sensitivity that has defined their careers, “Color Wheel” sees ASM engage head-on with contemporary rhythmic textures like they mean business – that they are undeniable masters of their craft in their most efficient, to-the point assortment of bass-heavy rap cuts to date — undeniable bangers in all colours and hues.
“Color Wheel” sees ASM take a step away from the narrative tilt and soulful orchestration of their epic cinematic odyssey “The Jade Amulet”, and back to the essential – neck-snapping beats and spectacular lyrical agility. The album is held together by the concept of musical colour, with each track being anchored by and bearing the name of a distinctive hue on the spectrum with song titles such as “Azure”, “Burgundy”, and “Apricot”. The colors coherently guide the aesthetic and lyrical direction of each track. Beyond that, MC’s FP and Green and beatmaker Fade are taking full liberty to unleash in each chosen direction.
The soundscapes and rhythms are clearly contemporary, but always informed by the sonic texture and rich musical culture that has guided ASM through their expansive career – driving boom-bap, raw funk, and smokey jazz. On Color Wheel, these guiding threads are stripped down to their bare essence and reinterpreted through a present-day lens. Experience tells, most clearly in tracks like the ferociously minimalist opener “Grape” featuring dancehall legend Cutty Ranks, or the speaker-shredding “Honey” featuring long-time collaborators and newly found label-mates Chinese Man.
The essence of the album can be summed up from the line in the international rap-legend laced posse-cut Emerald: “Beneath the rust coat, reveal the faded color-combination, now for restoration!”
Color Wheel is out now– https://cmr.lnk.to/ColorWheel
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