Monday 17 May 2021

'Dark vs Light - The Complete Edition' by Marc Rapson

As part of Futuristica's 15 year celebrations, a number of albums from their revered catalogue have been announced as being subject to having exclusive reissues prepared.  With some fantastic releases scheduled for this year, the label are kicking things off with Marc Rapson's 'Dark vs Light'.

In so many ways, the timing of this release is incredibly apt - just looking at Rapson's contributions to Futuristica's output in the last year alone would certainly whet anyone's appetite for a full-length release, particularly from the man behind the musical masterpiece that is 'I'll See You Again' by Deborah Jordan.  Having provided such a hefty contribution to Jordan's 'See in the Dark' album along with subsequent Futuristica album releases in 2020 from Georgie Sweet ('Misunderstood') and Nathan Thomas ('Still Water'), Rapson's indelible imprint - much like label founder Simon S - has long had a significant impact in shaping so much of the label's sonic landscape.  We haven't even touched on his seemingly countless remixes for Deborah Jordan, Emanative, Electric Conversation, LaNote, Simon S and Sun Circle over the years. 

With each of the recent Futuristica releases, Rapson's invaluable impact and contribution to these projects is even something marvelled at by those he collaborates with so the notion of Marc Rapson taking his place centre-stage with his musical super powers on full display for all to witness would have sounded overdue at the time of this album's initial release as it does today.  Despite Rapson's preferred super hero threads proving to be attire less resembling a long, flowing cape but endearingly more in line with Star Wars sweat pants (as evidenced from live online sessions with Georgie Sweet and Deborah Jordan), the subsequent results when he sits behind the production desk or behind a piano are undeniable.

Originally released as a seven track project back in 2010, 'Dark vs Light' finds itself bumped up to a thirteen track expanded edition featuring additional songs born of those recording sessions.  With respect to Rapson's fantastic chemistry that he continually boasts with a variety of vocalists, it does hit as something of a surprise that so much of 'Dark vs Light' is actually a predominately instrumental-inspired project, and one that potentially draws its biggest inspiration from hip-hop.  But Rapson has continually proved to present himself as an artist who relishes in subverting expectations - with the aforementioned 'I'll See You Again' as a prime example.  His ability to transform what is ultimately a scintillating ballad into a 90s, hip-hop inspired Dilla head-nod - by way of the Marc Rapson Rework - is mind-boggling and, frankly, genius!  While, at most times, his compositions are quintessentially rooted within neo-soul, Rapson has always dished out affectionate nods to James Yancey's unparalleled productions whether that be the tiniest blink-and-you-miss-it splash on the keyboards during a live set or more obvious odes like 'Return to Dilla Suite' - one of the newer tracks found available on 'Dark vs Light'.

As a complete thirteen-track package, 'Dark vs Light' is a fascinating record.  Although we touched upon the hip-hop inspirations and the impact of Dilla, the wonderful scene-stealing collaboration with vocalist Liz Elensky, 'Love Is All', is an absolute highlight as is the instrumental reinterpretation of 'Sunshine' by Roy Ayers ('Everybody Loves the Sunshine').  Rapper Replife guests on one of the album's new inclusions, 'The Rah Rah', and fans of Nathan Thomas will likely thrill at 'The Kalimba' - a track reimagined ten years later for 'Still Water' but I won't ruin the surprise as to which track the song was subsequently repackaged as.

Futuristica's revisiting of its past projects for these deluxe treatments, particularly this year, is an excellent way for the label to provide some additional light on its past gems and hopefully this release will inspire Marc Rapson to immerge from the proverbial phone booth once more - adorned in Star Wars sweat pants - to take centre-stage one more time.

'Dark vs Light - The Complete Edition' can be purchased via the Futuristica Bandcamp page. 

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