For a long time, I only knew Plutonic Lab through the rappers he produced for. It wasn’t until I was playing some Australian hip-hop for my teammates in the States that someone said, “dude, the beats are insane,” which sparked a little investigation into who produced what.
At the top of the list was Plutonic Lab, and I’ve had a lot of time for him ever since; he has produced some of the greatest Australian hip-hop tracks of all time, as well as the mighty Pegz’ albums and one of my favourite groups, Muph & Plutonic. But take away the rappers and voices and Plutonic Lab still stands in high ground on his mainly instrumental solo albums.
It’s been 11 years since his last solo album, Codes Over Colours, but he has by no means been on a hiatus. He has still been producing amazing tracks and albums for Dialectrix, Speech Debelle, Gully Platoon, Jess Harlen, and more, as well as performing live with Hilltop Hoods. Plutonic Lab has this year finally take some time out to release his own new solo album, Deep Above The Noise, out via Wax Museum Records.
Right from the first scratch 13 seconds into the opening track Out Of The Night, I could tell Plutonic had grown and taken new inspiration from some of the more abrasive electronic hip-hop producers of today, and has created a more space-age, futuristic album than in the past.
Recent single Sliced Bread, featuring Notes To Self BBRC is the catchiest track lyrically – I spent all weekend singing “Big bills, small faces,” and the drum stutter that follows. Plutonic has said that this was his favourite on the album and that he is working on more projects with Notes To Self BBRC.
The standout tracks for me on this album are both singles, Sliced Bread, and gritty number The Crib featuring champion Stones Throw rapper Guilty Simpson. The track is a solid ‘rep your neighbourhood’ tune, which really beams the Detroit scene. Being able to produce for just about anyone, in multiple styles, is something that Plutonic Lab really knows how to nail, and his extensive career is testament to this.
Instrumental track Stray Cat brings up memories of walking home, late at night in winter. I guess its name is fitting. I used to get paranoid walking in the dark and could only listen to beat heavy rap (favourites being ;Terra Firma and Muph & Plutonic) as violent lyrics only fed my paranoia. It’s no wonder it has such a familiar draw to it, as the beat in its basic form was originally destined for Muph & Plutonic’s fourth album, which was later abandoned.
Following on from Stray Cat is the jazzy Path To Satori featuring Coma-Chi. As jazz can be quite filling and high energy, I always find it interesting when producers are able to slow it down and ground it. This is one of my favourites on the album, and it is the perfect number to end on. Coma-Chi does an amazing job of switching between Japanese and English, doing the singing in English and the rapping in Japanese in a truly amazing voice – it’s an extremely talented angle to put forth.
Deep Above The Noise is a diverse album that incorporates many different styles, genres and techniques. Plutonic Lab continues to prove himself as one of the most versatile producers out there. I’m fully digging this album, and it has encouraged me to dust off some of my old Aussie hip-hop CDs and look for a few new ones with Plutonic productions. Do yourself a favour and cop this LP from his Bandcamp, and stream the rest of the album below.
Image: Bandcamp/ Plutonic Lab