Awkward Corners ‘Dislocation Songs’ LP (Shapes of Rhythm) 4/5

Under the guise of Awkward Corners, Chris Menist releases his new project ‘Dislocation Songs’ through London’s Shapes of Rhythm record label, founded by Tom Central and BodyMoves, the comparatively young label has set out to become something of an all-encompassing musical hub for great music unbound by any genre restrictions. Releases from artists including Polish duo and Japanese gaming and culture enthusiasts Gaijin Blues, the multi-faceted German DJ and producer David Hanke and French producer and musician D. Lynnwood have all released projects that typify the Shapes of Rhythm musical motivation as does Chris Menist’s bold new project, ‘Dislocation Songs’.

The Londoner, who now resides in Bangkok, built his reputation as a freelance writer, DJ and musician having contributed percussion (conga and djembe) for London’s contemporary dance school, the Laban Centre, as well as the English National Ballet. Menist’s credentials extend even further to having collaborated on projects for a variety of artists, including fellow percussionist and drummer, Emanative, providing percussion for his ‘Earth’ album and ‘Planet B’ tracks. Currently a member of The Paradise Bangkok Molam International Band, with releases thus far including ‘Planet Lam’ (2016) and ’21st Century Molam’ (2014), Menist is also the co-founder of the Paradise Bangkok record label.

Spearheaded by the project’s lead single, ‘Just Around The Corner’, the album sees Menist tackle all instruments and production with the welcome inclusion of Sarathy Korwar (Binker & Moses, Alabaster DePlume) who contributes Tablas to ‘Just Around The Corner’ and two further tracks from the album. The lead single is exemplary of the sonic excursions the album takes listeners on – with sparse production which really allows the percussive elements of the tracks to come to the forefront and also allows for Korwar to further excel within the space he’s been gifted. The album’s closer, ‘John Dillinger’s Death Mask Parts 1 and 2’, showcases Menist’s chemistry with Korwar over the course of nearly ten blissful minutes.

This phase in Menist’s musical evolution was inspired by the perhaps uncertain future that faces Britain following the country’s vote to leave the EU and the subsequent remoteness that many felt at the decision. When sitting with ‘Dislocation Songs’ however, what’s interesting to note is that these compositions don’t appear to have been born of anger or as a vehicle for a protest at all – the tracks seem to really encapsulate that idea of feeling lost or even, at times, defeated. Conversely though, while the album could be described as charting a course into a state of isolation… it could also be seen to be about steering your way out of it albeit towards an uncertain future, but still, an outlook rooted in hope.

Imran Mirza