By Elizabeth Wells

Req is a multi-talented artist, with his finger in many pies, including graffiti art, music production and the obligatory DJing. Originally from Brighton, Req claims his influences from early Detroit techno, psychedelic rock and the first wave of hip hop to reach the UK in the 1980s. Sketchbook is his first album for Warp, and it’s not really a release that makes much fuss about itself, delivering nearly all 14 tracks at a laidback hypnotic hip-hop groove. So contrarily, I tend to go for the beatless pieces, or the tracks which deliver a more warped kind of atmospherics. So the opener Loop Bass offers the sound of water dropping and echoing as if in a dark vault, accompanied by the hypnotic sound of a wind tunnel, and the wonderful Wasp Zither is a whimsical electronic doodling with strings that sound as if they have been plucked by the lightest touch, as if, indeed, they have been played by an insect. And on Colours we hear various muffled piano samples, all playing similar melodies, looped until they gradually coincide and form an unsettling cycle. Some of the more bass-heavy tracks form a more interesting aural menu when they are lightened by electronic string arrangements or abstracted by a discordant harmonica (as on Ampeg 18 Khz), and there the contrasts work well.
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