Get off your sofa, it’s The Nextmen

Posted on 21 November 2010

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The NextmenWhen eclectic UK production/DJ duo, The Nextmen, release a new tune, people sit up and take notice. Even more so with their latest offering: Sofa. Featuring reggae singer Pupa Jim, the opening lines intone: “Special request to all the lazy bodies / Move from your sofa / Move from your sofa.”

Listening to the new track you may well want to move from your sofa; the skanking rhythm moves the whole thing along infectiously, the beautifully grainy background crackle evoking a warm nostalgia for vinyl and the electronic tinkering engulfing you in a luscious sonic sphere. It’s typical stuff from The Nextmen, then. And a tune that only reaffirms my love of them and their music.

I first came across The Nextmen when I heard Here What I Say, featuring ex-London Posse member and syllable-wrecking Rodney P, from 2002’s debut album Get Over It. I couldn’t help but hear what they had to say.

Get Over It album coverThe illustrated cover of Get Over It features The Nextmen as geeky-looking scientists peeling back a red curtain; an awkward looking Dom Search looking like Golum stuffed in a lab coat with clipboard in hand; whilst Brad Baloo steps up and cues the music like a conductor. Prior to Get Over It’s release the pair must have been backstage in a lab for years, experimenting and fusing genres, beats and sounds to then peel back the curtain to show the audience what they had. And well worth the wait it was, too.

Their mix and mash of beats, genres and electronic styles was my thing in the early noughties. Modern tunes for a modern, multi-cultural Britain throwing off the shackles of the Tory years: bits of dancehall, drum’n’bass and reggae here; a smattering of hip hop, soul and straight-up big beats over there. Celebratory sounds and very in tune with much of the music also being brewed by the Fat City label, which I also loved at the time.

I see The Nextmen as the Hip Hop Nick Frost and Simon Pegg: Brad Baloo affable and buffoonish; Dom Search seemingly more geeky and awkward, both part of the funny man/straight man combo. Not only do they look similar as double acts but they both mix genres and add their own twist: Shaun of the Dead fusing humour and horror; Hot Fuzz playing with the cop/buddy movie genre. Listen to the opening tracks of 2009’s Join the Dots: the soaring big beats of the title track; the Hip Hop of Round of Applause; the old school reggae of Whisper Up – yet all sounding like The Nextmen.

All better for fusing genres and styles, The Nextmen’s sound has morphed over time, evolving into a more organic and song-based form – 2007’s This Was Supposed to be the Future marked the start of this progression. You can’t help but feel warmed through by their music and all the better for a good listen. But with such high production values their tunes can sometimes ride the thin edge of comfy-coffee-table releases and middle-class dinner-party pleasers. But what I love is that there’s always a killer beat or enough electronic trickery to give it a harder edge. It’s more grimy after-party mash-up than dinner-party mash potato. A bit like the way Hot Fuzz plays out the cop/buddy story in a sleepy town where nothing happens, only to completely mash things up at the end to such good effect.

To me, I first saw The Nextmen on the cover of Get Over It as scientists straight out of the lab. They continue to join the DNA dots of music, finding the links in good grooves, big beats, soulful flows and sonic sounds. Get off your sofa and back in the lab, lads, and keep up the good work.

Listen to: Sofa, Here What I Say & Join the Dots by The Nextmen; plus the Mystic Brew compilations available on Fat City Records

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