Article, review, UK Hip Hop

EP Review: Mr Key and Greenwood Sharps – ‘Green & Gold’

‘Green & Gold’ artwork – by Jamie Johnson.

Green and Gold is the new project from Mr Key and Greenwood Sharps, the synaesthetic producer who composed the album in its eponymous colours. For those not familiar, synaesthesia is a condition that causes one stimulus to trigger two senses, in Sharps’s case this means that he can see music, and thus the album was composed in the colours of green and gold. For those not possessed with the gift, this may well be impossible to grasp, but as you listen to the project and the soundscapes that Sharps creates, it is evident that there is an overarching sonic theme; the ethereal melodies and muted basslines that are found throughout the EP combine to form a cohesive whole, much like the palette of a painting.

The reason for this thematic clarity owes much to the creative process of both artists, whose musical chemistry is such that it sounds like this could be their sixteenth rather than second collaborative project (!), as well as the synesthetic grounding in Greenwood Sharps’ production. This process is evidenced in the short film released alongside the album, a collaborative project with visual artist Jamie Johnson that showcases the locations in which the album was made. It’s a visually stunning piece of art, shot between the mountains of Andalucía – where Key rests his head – and the bucolic idyll of rural England, which is home to Sharps. This was another source of inspiration for the project, the vastly different – but equally beautiful – settings which the two artists inhabit. The gold of the sandy Andalusian hills and the green of the English countryside are connected by their relationship with the sun above them, as well as that of the artists who move through them, and these connections clearly provide fertile creative ground.

Mr Key and Greenwood Sharps hanging out.

Jamie Johnson’s art reinforces this relationship, imitating natural forms in an array of psychedelic colours, it reminds us of the intimate connection that we share with nature, one so often enhanced by psychedelics, as Key alludes to on ‘Luv Is All U Need M8’ with the lyrics “Picked the perfect night to wash my face in/ Colours like a Jamie Johnson painting, oscillating/ In communion with God’s creation/ Universe my church and love, my denomination”. This sentiment also encapsulates the state theme of the album – “universal love for all things and all people and the challenge of maintaining these shiny ideals in the grinding gears of day to day life, as our cynical side reasserts itself”. Certainly a heady concept, yet one that truly does emerge throughout the album, which remains refreshingly positive, without ever sanitising the (at times straining) experience of life, or entertaining the glib.

On ‘G&G / Vonneguts’ Key manages to capture this in less than four bars as he rhymes “I greet the day with no heaviness of heart like/ Everything is ours right/ whatever come to pass I’ll be alright”. The tune reflects on the ups and down of life, the literal as well as metaphorical highs and lows as it starts with gentle boom-bap, a tinkly, lo-fi melody and ‘acid on my tongue’, before the second half comes in with meatier bass and melody with some added depth to give a more melancholy feel; but despite the “perfections and impermanence/ everything was beautiful and nothing ever hurt”.

On the project Mr Key finds the positive in even the darker parts of life.

Clocking in at just 21 minutes,  this album is definitely short but sweet, but at times it’s truly transporting – the kind of music that feels as if it were designed for a dream sequence, you can get lost in it and transcended the day-to-day. It feels like this is what Mr Key and Greenwood Sharps set out to achieve, a project to life you out of reality and onto a higher plane, allowing you to see the beauty down below and, along with Jamie Johnson on the video, they executed it tremendously well.

Rating 4/5

You can support the artists and purchase the album on CD, Cassette, Vinyl or Digital on the High Focus website now!

Back cover of the album – artwork by Jamie Johnson.

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