The UK producer and co-founder of new instrumental grime night ‘Boxed LDN’, has been at the heart of instrumental grime’s shifting landscape, and his latest release, Parallel Memories marks a turning point in this foray into the more dream-like and ambient side of the genre. The title reflects how Mr Mitch feels when listening to each track, which conjure up the same vivid scenes in his head of himself in impossible situations – like memories of his life on another plane.
The album opens with the more ambient of the tracks, ‘Afternoon After’, whose slow digital pitter-patter melody is a far cry from the in-your-face gunshot sounds and dark, guttural basslines which characterised the stuff on pirate radio in the early 2000’s. It’s also a stark contrast from some of Mr Mitch’s earlier stuff, like the more club-friendly ‘The Last Stand’, whose tempo and skippy bass adheres more closely to the genre’s traditional sonic template.
But to point to the lack of danceable tracks in Parallel Memories misses the point. It’s an album laden with emotion and heartache, far-removed from grime’s associations with machismo and angry lyrics. The innocent, video game-inspired melodies in ‘Intense Faces’ plink on top of subtle beats like tetris pieces, followed by ‘Don’t Leave’, the standout track from his previous EP release. It fits in seamlessly with the newer stuff – the R&B vocals bursting into a full-blown desperation by the end. ‘Bullion’ with its more thumping, clamorous sound, is the only track that feels slightly jarring amidst the dreamy, floating tracks like ‘Sweet Boy Code’, a collaboration with producer Dark0, and ‘Denial’, a simultaneously beautiful and unsettling palette of disparate electronic glitches and isolated, urgently pleading vocal samples.
Mr Mitch has mellowed the basic grime aesthetic of square waves and synth-driven beats into fluid, lullaby-like digital melodies – a direction he has been tetnatively moving towards since his string of Peace Dubs. But when the Dark0 Peace Edit first dropped in the summer of this year, it failed to connect with listeners’ understanding of grime and what it should sound like. It seems that now, thanks to the acclaim of the Boxed nights, and the critical success of genre-bending and experimentation seen with the release of Arca’s ‘Xen’ and Aphex Twin’s ‘Syro’, Mr Mitch has finally been able to put out the music he wants to, and challenge our sonic preconceptions in the process.
Parallel Memories, along with Slackk’s Palm Tree Fire and Logos’ Cold Mission is a snapshot of this direction of instrumental grime inspired by chiptune and more experimental electronic sounds, which pushes the boundaries of the grime template in new and exciting ways.