reviews

Mr. Stee – Searching

Mr. Stee offers a refreshing take on hip-hop and funk, armed with a guitar, a brother handling bass, and some clean kicks, Seeing is a clean instrumental record for getting through your good and bad days

“I didn’t like the eight hour job” laments one of the few voices you’ll hear on the entire record. And who does? Trading in a third of your day for a chunk of cash has always felt medieval; an adult ceremony with fanfare reserved for Friday direct deposits and holiday office parties. But before Mr. Stee can offer a practical solution to the eight hour work day the voice echoes further, “I didn’t even like the four hour job, even though I couldn’t get one”. This isn’t the average worker’s gripe: this is post-internet boredom and longing for much more.

So Mr. Stee spent his eight hours doing something better, bridging together loops, powerful punched in kicks, echoes of humans three closed rooms away. Searching is the worker’s anthem-a series of instrumentals featuring live guitar and live bass strums and hums to guide you through clock in to clock out.

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Photography by Geoff Lister

Not that the project should be tuned out to, it’s pretty difficult to zone out when the zone flips it’s rhythm on a dime. It sharply carves itself a niche into space-time, room is born to explore and for it’s sounds to breathe. There isn’t a moment of clutter on the record, and hardly a second is wasted without a direction. Early record opener and lead single “Out There” especially shows the strength of the pacing; relying on funk elements to ease the listener in before a bridged sample sounds off like a siren, and looping back into the chill. It’s a brief, well paced tease of Mr. Stee’s abilities. He’s capable of looping hills together into a mountain-but where’s the fun in reaching the top right away?

Highlight track “Flying” exists on the opposite side of the coin-at a seemingly-brief 5:30 it is the longest, most ambitious track on the EP. Mr. Stee leads the way with John Mayer guitar strums, the drums pick it up and go crazy from there. It’s easy to get lost in Mr. Stee’s wild ride; sway and clap, sway and clap, break it down…then clap. It’s all purposeful, Mr. Stee is the sultry, silent pilot that knows exactly what altitude he wants this flight to take off at, and he follows through without a single kick wasted or clap misaligned up at 45,000 feet in the air.

“Perfume” later picks up where “Flying” left off, offering a hyper-focused, bass-driven bop. The instruments here glimmer with sunshine in an otherwise gray record, letting up only for a sampled high-pitched outro leaving you in want:either the song keeps going or the sample outro needs more time. Either way, I want more.

And that’s all you can really ask from an instrumental album-just more. More breakdowns, more bridges, more Jackson Fiveesque sampling, more hip-hop and more funk, intertwined. Definitely more of the live guitar. The ideas and patterns are all there, a solid ghost making it’s presence known. Mr. Stee can only grow as a creative from here with such a solid understanding of song flows and pacing. Tomorrow might not be a four hour work day, but it sure can feel like it with Mr. Stee supplying the soundtrack.

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