Album Review: Herma Puma – Synchromystic

Herma Puma – Synchromystic
First Word Records: 2010

Hip-hop has long used an international focus.  There’s no denying that fact.  From the various international acts such as Supreme NTM, MC Solaar, and Guerrillero, to the home acts who have used international music as a focal point; such as BK-One & Benzilla who focused on Brazilian music for their effort Radio Do Canibal, and Aceyalone with the albeit mixed Lightning Strikes, which puts a focus on Reggae/Dancehall music.  However, it has been rare that we have heard about two people working across borders to deliver something fresh to our ears.  Enter the duo of Pimpernel Jones, from the UK, and Simple X, from Chicago, who come to us as Herma Puma and deliver to us Synchromystic, their debut record.

So what to expect from Synchromystic? What you can expect is a mostly instrumental effort that hones in on both producers’ strengths that exercise various influences from Bollywood to Brazilian funk, with some welcome cameo visits in between to deliver variety to a listener’s ears.  From the funky flutes of the PSA-to-wack-rappers jam on “Disposable Rappers” featuring Sensei of Soul, to the funk-laden, head-nod aesthetics provided on “Royal Flush” featuring The Gent$, nary a detail is spared in the duo’s efforts to deliver to the listener some well-remembered aesthetics in hip-hop production.  From the drum rolls, to the well-placed and executed flute chops, Synchromystic leaves a listener with a lot of head-nodding to do and music to enjoy.

You also have several cameos on the record from some artists who pop in every now and then to keep the balances in check from not making this solely an instrumental effort. And this is another spot in which the album shines.  Scud One spits in on “When The Tables Turn”, while Green T of ASM comes in on “Snap Scale”.  Elsewhere on the disc you also have JFB on “Mystical Torture”, Rider Shafique on “Space To Breathe”, and Elemental on “Beneath the Sea”.  On all these cameos you find the strengths of the features as well as Herma Puma in particular; the producers are not as restrained and the MCs definitely deliver their all, even if their topical matter comes off as humorous and thought-provoking.

The lone complaint comes during the last half of the album, where it seems that the producers let it all unhinge and get adventurous, which you wish they would have done on most the album.  Take for example “Jollys”, where the drums let loose and the vocal sample croons away, each layer creeping in one after the next, making for an entertaining instrumental. Then, synths and samples clash together on “Dreams” and orchestral sounds and choir seem to blip and give way to a melancholy piano on “Circle of Destiny”.  “Psycke Out” gets rapid, with a mean bass loop and random instrument notes creep in and out to keep things lively. The result is easily one of the highlights of the album.  Overall, don’t let Synchromystic fool you in the least bit.  It does well at what its impending purpose is, and that is creating great music.

3.5 out of 5

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