plenty of people can imbue their music with a certain charm or character, but how many can actually lace up their beats with a real sense of their own distinct and real life personality? very few i’d say, but altered natives is certainly one of them, and never more so than on the third, final and suicidal (his word) instalment of his own tenement yard series. what’s more, how many beatmakers can you name that manage to nail a sweet groove at the same time as making you laugh, or at least cock half a smile? again, not many, but danny yorke is one of them.
the same acerbic wit and sarcasm that litters his twitter seems to litter this album: the results come off like a constant battle between the abrupt and the abusive and the more honest and understanding. take “be nice” for example, a not-so subtle attempt at telling miserablist clubbers to cheer the fuck up set to a backdrop of rattling techno percussion and vast rubbery kicks, when but a few tracks later comes ‘the landlord’ which repeatedly screams “no one out there can fuck with me.” hardly “being nice”, is it?
and that’s the thing about tenement yard vol 3; it’s full of human messages and recognisable sampling that make for wholly entertaining listening whether you’re getting sweaty on the ‘floor or not. that said, even with out the likes of sade and others patched in throughout, there’s an uncompromising brutishness and muscularity to every track that immediately consumes your attention. elements seem piled up on top of each other, unprocessed and raw as you like. house and techno loosely, there are stylistic references to everything from uk funky to bass and even a macho disco workout as on ‘natural freak’ where well swung and face slapping beats underlap beneath a genuinely touching and celestial piano melody that melts repeatedly to nothing.
that struggle between the rough and the smooth, the harsh with the heartfelt permeates throughout, with the finest example and, for me, the lps crowing glory being ‘bhuuumbahcleeeeet’, where rip saw synths buzz behind sparse and woody percussion and pixelated melodic snowfalls – a stormy and tumultuous brew on its own, but thanks to the sweet echoes of a female voice that seem to appear from behind many veils of dust it actually strikes a seriously resonant note of melancholy.
closing on the skeletal, haunting and ramshackle garage (ish) groove of ‘you cut me’ with the silky coos of lizzy b, altered natives shows a more sensitive side. like everything here it will still work on a dancefloor, but again it’s a personal message that has you wondering about who exactly it was that hurt him so. maybe we’ll never know – in fact there are many personal issues raised throughout – but isn’t that the point of music; to tell your own story?