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Cooly G
Wait 'Til Night Nick MacWilliam , November 27th, 2014 17:36

The underlying theme that resonates throughout Cooly G's second album Wait 'Til Night is that of the idealised nocturnal environment, an after-hours stage on which to enact scenes of reciprocated desire and fumble-free seduction. In a recent Quietus interview, the South London producer, aka Merissa Campbell, explained the concept of fantasy in composing Wait 'Til Night and of being able to play roles somewhat complicated by the daily presence of two small children. The advantage of imagination, of course, is the ability to make everything perfect, and this is a record so bulging with prowess as to make anyone quiver nervously.

Fantasy is also a pretty useful resource in Campbell's home city: the illusion of being able to actually afford the lifestyle you project; that things will get better before long; that this is a bastion of forward-thinking and open-mindedness, even though the political leaning of our dear mayor suggests otherwise. Cooly G's sound has been representative of South London ever since she first began laying her teenage beats on the sound system scene. And at times Wait 'Til Night, with songs such as 'Your Sex', 'So Deep' and 'Fuck With You', could be interpreted as an ode to the throbbing, groaning organ that is the capital itself. London has, after all, been fucking its inhabitants for years.

Following on from 2012's Playin' Me, this is Cooly G's second album, and like its predecessor is also released on the Hyperdub label. A broader vocal presence signals, if not a new direction exactly, a sense of adaptation and evolution. Despite Playin' Me's inclusion of a Coldplay cover, Wait 'Til Night is arguably a more commercially viable album, in which Campbell appears to have taken the conscious decision to adopt a more prevailing sound. While two of Playin' Me's best moments were the ragga-flecked groove of 'It's Serious' and the spacey dubstep of 'Landscapes', the new record is a slower, more sensual jam, and one you suspect has an eye trained on a higher profile from here on.

Musically, there's much to like on Wait 'Til Night, with its landscape of sparse beats, dubby bass-lines and sampled hooks as it traverses a slow-burning palette of electro-hinged R&B and broken beat experimentation. Campbell is not one to over-complicate the production, keeping it minimal throughout and inclined to leave elongated spaces where it suits her. But she is also adept at building up a steamy head of funk, like on the strutting, dance-floor orientated bass of the title track, or shifting into nu-soul, as with the Badu-ian 'I Like' and the painful '3 Of Us', which reveals a final betrayal. It is only here, with its lament for a lost "happy ending", that Campbell lets the mask of make-believe slip, to reveal a narrative that is just as fractured as real life.

Regardless of whether your seduction technique more closely resembles a preening peacock, an enraged goat, or David Mellor after a particularly energetic game of squash, it's hard not to admire the confidence Campbell displays throughout, both as vocalist and producer. This feels like the first phase in a shift towards a broader audience. With Wait 'Til Night, Campbell has constructed a record that rightly confirms her as a main player in UK production; watch this space, but maybe have a lie down first.