Maurice Fulton is one of FACT’s favourite producers; not only a genius, but a prolific one. And while some of his strongest material is instrumental (‘Wet & Sticky’, ‘A Soft Kiss For A Rose’ and the massively underrated Syclops LP for DFA are firm office favourites), the Baltimore-hailing, Sheffield-based producer really comes into his own when working with vocalists: take the two MU albums, for instance, or Kathy Diamond’s sublime ‘All Woman’.
Suleiman is originally from Zanzibar but is now based in Sheffield as well; her sonorous Swahili vocals are at the heart of this album, but it’s hard for us not to focus on the bravura beats with which Fulton frames them. His default setting across the album is analogue-style boogie, with squelchy basslines and tough snares galore; but nothing’s ever simple with this guy. Stand-out track ‘Flava’ combines dense tribal percussion and reverbed vocal loops with furious claps pulled straight from the Chicago house trick-bag; ‘Nyuli’ has elements of the bass-driven electro-punk of Mu’s ‘Chair Girl’ and the sultry disco noir of Diamond’s ‘All Woman’. ‘Mingi’ and ‘Haraka…’ take in highlife guitar, ‘Sherehekeya’ is a minimal synth work-out that sounds like Kraftwerk with heatstroke, ‘Maji’ is all low-slung, Seiji-style bruk-beat and ‘Mpenzi’ is scintillating, open-ended techno-jazz reminiscent of nothing so much as Fulton’s Boof project. Honestly, no one else can make drums sound this good.
Full credit to Suleiman though – this is very much her album, and the unique character of her voice brings the best out of Fulton’s production as much as vice versa. Sure, the lyrics are unintelligible to English ears, but if anything that actually adds to the experience: rather than being distracted by verbal sentiments, we can enjoy the singing as pure sound. And what an ecstatic sound it is.
Running Back is run by Gerd Janson and has provided a home for producers such as Radio Slave, Mark E, Prosumer and Move D. Tungi is its first album release. Mim Suleiman’s ‘Nyuli’ is out now on 12″ (inc. Fulton dub) with ‘Mingli’ (inc. instrumental) due out in June along with the CD album.
2. Bibi Na Mpu
7. Haraka Haileti Baraka
10. Bibi Na Mpu (Maurice Fulton Dub)