“In order to last in the music game, you have to reinvent yourself, and that’s what Culture does.”
So says the charismatic and thoughtful IG Culture, who has just created the genre-defying album ‘Turn It Up’ under his alter-ego New Sector Movements. His second album under the New Sector Movements moniker (now shortened to simply NSM), sees the ever-pioneering producer go back to his roots, and coming up with his most accessible music yet. It’s a piece of music that sees IG Culture moving beyond the scenes in which he has developed, and reaching the perfect balance between sweet, soul music, and the tech-y broken edginess that has so far defined his career. As he excitedly puts it himself, “The next stage of NSM takes in all of my musical experiences, hones them into new and strong songs that tell where I am from, where I am at, and where I am going.”
‘Turn It Up’ is an album that has allowed IG to move on as a producer, while acknowledging his debt to the past. It’s a dichotomy that has always been integral to IG Culture’s music, a natural development from growing up in the UK. “Everything that England has been soaking up over all these years, I am about. If it’s in the dance, then I am all over it. Be it the sound-clash to the sampled beat.” You can hear it on tracks like ‘Heat It Up’ – a ragged fusion of hip hop, soul and punk, that could only be born from London. Or the twisted soul of ‘Sho You Right’, which takes the blueprint of Philadelphia soul, and transforms it into something entirely fresh. A modern classic from the uniquely British school of eclecticism.
Like black musical luminaries before him, Shuggie Otis, Stevie Wonder or Herbie Hancock, IG Culture’s sound depends on taking the technology of the time and combining it with classic sensibilities. Nestled deep in his subterranean West London studio, packed with drum kits, unrecognisable pieces of production kit and a beaten up piano, IG has always strived to push as many boundaries as possible. Be it in the nineties, under his Dodge City Production name, where he developed UK hip hop into a viable chart friendly form. Or when he first recorded as IG Culture for seminal labels like Main Squeeze or People, becoming the original pioneer of that unique fusion of jazz, soul, beats and general weirdness, that became known as the West London Sound or Broken Beats.
While not exactly turning his back on the broken beat sound he invented (the complex and choppy beat patterns that characterise the sound are still evident on tracks like ‘Trying Times’ and ‘Digital Age’), ‘Turn It Up’ sees him investigating other styles of music. “Well, I’m not content to stick to one genre, and you can hear that on this album more than anything else I have recorded.” His love of sound-system and reggae has led to ‘Big It Up’, a collaboration between IG and renowned Jamaican dancehall chanteuse Cecile. Based around a bumpy ragga riddim that wouldn’t feel out of place as the basis for a Greensleeves Rhythm album, Cecile lets loose with her trademark, tough style. The result is going to surprise people who thought they knew what New Sector Movements was about.
So there you have it: forget about everything you thought you knew about this artist, as NSM is back, revived for 2004. He’s not just created the most important black music album of the year, but perhaps the most important album of the year full stop. British soul music is now firmly back on the map.