Greentea Peng: Man Made – album review
Green tea peng
Available now (all formats)
Greentea Peng mixes and combines multiple musical influences in a steamy stew of stoner rhythms that is just perfect for a summer day. Bet now for the Mercury Music Prize: it’s album of the year so far, says Tim Cooper.
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At first I was put off by Greentea Peng, the stage name adopted by Aria Wells. I thought it was just a little too artificial, a little too arched and hipster; but I hadn’t heard his music until the clip for Revolution, which was shot in a market down the street where I live in East London, late last year.
It was love at first sight. I love how Wells takes well-worn styles such as soul, blues, jazz, reggae, and trip hop and weaves them into a hazy, trippy, smoky sound that, despite the familiarity of its components, she appropriates.
She has a look that matches the music she makes: her exotic body art, her piercings, her clothes that appear to have been picked up from markets from Marrakech and Goa to Brooklyn and Hackney (and probably were).
Part hippie, part fly, part bashment queen, part soul diva, she is the sum of her parts – born and raised in South London and the South Coast with an Arab father and an African mother and a step- father in Iron Maiden and The Clash. Not to mention a period of yoga retreat in Mexico.
To me, she sums up everything great about Britain in 2021: the quintessential Londoner who is a bit of this, a bit of that, and lots of little bits of everything else, soaking up all the sights, sounds, smells and all the other experiences she has encountered and repeated in her daily life.
She is the antidote to that stereotype of post-Brexit Britain that much of the world sees: a red-faced gammon wrapped in a St George flag, booing footballers for taking a symbolic stand against discrimination , inequality and injustice? I know which one I prefer.
Greentea Peng has produced music prolifically since her debut EP Sensi in 2018, followed by the aptly titled Rising the following year, and a dozen other tracks since then. She was chosen as a person to watch by the BBC and The Observer ahead of this whole pandemic crisis, and she made a spot on Later With Jools late last year.
His album, recorded with his group of seven musicians Seng Seng in a country house and offering 18 tracks (and lasted over an hour), does not disappoint. If you were picky you could say she could have cut a few leads, but the point of Man Made is that it’s a vibe – messages of hope for our troubled times presented in a mellow vibe that can be better. enjoyed in the sun with your stimulant of choice.
His are far from hidden – there are many exhortations to take advantage of some sensimilla and, amid the many references to Krishna, Jah and God, and freeing your mind to prevent the fall of Babylon, the listener is invited several times in Party Hard to “Free your mind – do yourself a favor and eat” magic mushrooms “.
The meditation does exactly what it says on the tin. “Sensi is my beloved,” she sings over the kind of sleepy rhythms we used to call trip-hop, as the drums click hypnotically and the piano tones beautifully. “Sensimilla help me focus. “
Even without external stimulants, Man Made alone provides a feeling of blissful relaxation. “This sound is physical, very physical and literal,” she sings, posting a statement of intent in This Sound. “But metaphysical and mystical… It’s sensual and plentiful; alchemical is medicine and medicine. Now open wide and let him in.
The influences and styles are many and varied. Free My People and Be Careful incorporate what can only be called jazz flute, while Nah It Ain’t The Same features breakbeats and scratches behind a meditation on what it’s like to be a man. today, and many puns that could have been a rap. “I believe in magic because I’ve seen it,” she sings over the kind of big bass and shaky drums from which Roni Size has built an entire genre.
This Sound and Poor Man Skit are relaxed funk grooves driven by bubbling bass; the first throws syncopated horns, the second prefers piano tracks which give it a jazz flavor. The melodious Kali V2 and Dingaling, meanwhile, float and sparkle and enter your head with their meandering melodies (and excellent videos).
There are psychedelic guitar melodies in Maya, a more shimmering bass guitar, dub-like Earnest, and what can only be called grunge riffs in Sinner, suggesting her stepdad could have played his albums. metal once or twice at home, while the acoustic guitar that features Suffer makes you feel like you’re listening to a beach, probably in Ibiza.
The closing Jimtastic Blues evolves from breakbeats mixed with the kind of orchestral arrangement the Temptations could have used in their psychedelic soul heyday. “We have to fight for our right to party,” she says as the horns build and the ropes come in to lead her to a euphoric conclusion.
The fight is already won, it is for the moment the album of the year.
Greentea Peng Tour Dates:
17 MARCH 22 – CONCORDE II – BRIGHTON
18 MARCH 22 – SAINTE MARIE AU CHATEAU – HASTINGS
20 MARCH 22 – O2 ACADEMY 2 – OXFORD
21 MARCH 22 – CAMBRIDGE JUNCTION – CAMBRIDGE
23 MAR 22 – THE CAVES – EDINBURGH
24 MARCH 22 – MANCHESTER ACADEMY 2 – MANCHESTER
26 MAR 22 – LE MOULIN – BIRMINGHAM
27 MARCH 22 – NORWICH ARTS CENTER – NORWICH
28 MAR 22 – THE LEAD MILL – SHEFFIELD
31 MAR 22 – ALEXANDRA PALACE THEATER – LONDON
02 APR 22 – MARBRE FACTORY – BRISTOL