A Londoner through and through, Brixton based Cooly G (aka Merrisa Campbell) is the sound of a city. She’s a single mum and a self-made woman who’s managed to dominate her scene as a DJ before, mastering live performance. She’s caught the ear of the Hyperdub label to join the likes of Laurel Halo and Hype Williams in crossing the chasm between electronic music and freeform experimentalism, all the while making a living and looking after her son. Except that, while Laurel Halo and Hype Williams come from a DIY world of audacious sonic eclecticism, Cooly G and her type of swag comes from a different place entirely.
Mixing on her dad’s sound system as a kid, producing through her teens and touring and running a label, Dub Organizer, these days, Cooly G had a tough go of it getting to where she’s at as a woman. But here she is and she’s come out with a track with Baltimore house icon Karizma on ‘It’s Serious’. Released as a 12” in 2011 and arguably the best track on her debut album Playin Me, the delirious shuffle of the wordless track is a throwback to when Cooly G’s sound could be described as a sharper version of the girly UK Funky to which she’s been ruefully compared. Now though, she’s relaxed into a space no less intense emotionally but smoother and more refined sonically.
Instead of the pounding deep house beats of earlier tracks ‘Narst’ or ‘Dis Boy’, songs like ‘What This World Needs Now’ travels through the cosmic psychological space of a person discovering what constitutes music that is equally dance floor and easy listening experimentalism. The almost Sade-esque vocal of ‘Landscapes’, featuring Simbad, is an invitation into her own mode of escapism as she croons, “welcome to my world… leave your thoughts aside” while ‘Trying’ submerges grooving vocals into a pool of watery echo.
Cooly G also lives up to her name as a true producer when she identifies what’s good about Coldplay and shows you by bravely covering Parachutes track ‘Trouble’. Rolling over the celestial keyboard sample tracks before dropping into frenetic deep house beats, it exposes the lyrics for all their melancholic ambiguity. And it’s ambiguity that Cooly G does best.
The woozy whitewash of ‘Is it Gone’ circles and builds to frantic pitch before cut up, layered and repeated vocals are battered by hard rhythm and resonance, while ‘Up in My Head’ offers a glimpse into the cyber sounds of a whole new virtual universe, before quickly pulling away. The voice on that track linger just above the mix, on top and out of time with the instrumentals, in the same way that Laurel Halo splits her tracks and pulls them out of sync in songs like ‘Thaw’ on her Quarantine debut. Funnily enough, the Brooklyn artist has named Cooly G as an artist she admires and there’s little doubt she’ll be joining Laurel Halo and other Hyperdub newbies in producing equally chill and fiery additions to the electro-world of music.
Cooly G’s Playin Me is out on Hyperdub July 16th, 2012.