Mall Grab – Tudor Street Post Twelve / Ferns / Her Eyes
Earlier this year, Australia’s Jordan Alexander, AKA Mall Grab, released his debut album. What I Breathe was largely an extended love letter to Alexander’s adopted home of London, pulling from influences of UKG, jungle, and rave. The album saw Alexander at a significant point of growth creatively, exploring new sounds and styles that while not always successful, offered a glimpse into Mall Grab’s process of becoming. Perhaps inspired by where he found himself on What I Breathe, Alexander has been putting out a steady stream of previously unreleased tracks that offer us an intimate look into the development of both Mall Grab and Alexander himself. His latest EP, the three track Tudor Street Post Twelve / Ferns / Her Eyes, is particularly interesting in this regard. Featuring three tracks pulled from the Mall Grab archives, it provides a litmus test of sorts to give context to where Alexander began heading on What I Breathe.
The three tracks on the EP locate Alexander back in the moment of his rise, where he was most associated with the SoundCloud born phenomenon of lo-fi house. Tudor Street Post Twelve is a moody ambient track that serves as the EP’s overture, all dusty stabs and ephemeral vocal samples. Fern, meanwhile, is classic Mall Grab house. As the EP’s centrepiece, it takes shape as an extended four on the floor loop, which over its six minute run is coloured by phrases of murky piano stabs and backbeats. Throughout, an oscillating backbone of ambient drones writhe, giving weight and texture to Fern’s landscape as a whole. Her Eyes is the most lo-fi house of the lot, with reverb laden percussion and a looped R&B vocal. Piano keys provide brightness and melancholy in equal measure, while Alexander pushes and pulls his percussion to create emotive peaks and valleys.
It’s clear that these tracks are not quite finished. The loops feel a touch too repetitive, the overall intention a bit cloudy. But as a look into the mind of Mall Grab circa 2016, they’re invaluable. The bones of where Alexander would begin to push Mall Grab are there; from the subtle garage influence of Her Eyes to the propulsion of Fern. But it’s Tudor Street Post Twelve that reveals most about Alexander. It recalls his work outside of Mall Grab, particularly the ambiguous shoegaze-cum-footwork-cum-ambient sound of Ohana. While there’s always felt like a bit of a divide between what Alexander creates under his own name and what he is expected to create as Mall Grab, it’s moments like these that show how the two sides of him have always been intrinsic.
Listen to Tudor Street Post Twelve below.
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