Scratcha DVA hosts the breakfast show on Rinse FM, the spiritual hub of London’s urban music scene. This probably means that DVA gets to hear pretty much all that’s going on at any given time and that he’s got a phone full of numbers for the hottest movers out there. DVA puts both to use on his debut album ‘Pretty Ugly’, which shows deep understanding of where London’s urban scene is coming from and features an impressive cast of guest vocalists.
DVA paints a panoramic widescreen vision on ‘Pretty Ugly’, weaving in elements of Grime, House, Techno, UK Funky and a few shards of R&B. Before you can dwell for too long on any particular detail the wagons have already rolled on. Who cares if there is a promised land at the end of the trail when the journey is this much fun?
Seven totally different singers add technicolour to DVA’s gritty production: Fatima, Zaki Ibrahim, Cornelia, Natalie Maddix, Vikter Duplaix, A.L. and Muhsinah. DVA’s cast of six leading ladies - and Duplaix as the one lone gun slinger - give ‘Pretty Ugly’ plenty of character. From Zaki (the diva) to Fatima (the soulful one) to Vikter (the smooth operator) to Cornelia (the maverick) - These are intense performances which go well beyond the usual ‘featured artist’ cameos.
Five instrumentals add more moody atmosphere to the seven vocal tracks. DVA uses a broad range of styles, from the tense Detroit Techno flavoured ‘Polyphonic Dreams’ - Think Carl Craig’s Innerzone Orchestra plays UK Funky - to the haunting funeral march theme on the closing track ‘Where I Belong’.
In a nutshell, DVA delivers a well crafted debut which makes the most of its strong cast of vocalists. Repeated listening will show whether ‘Pretty Ugly’ will age into an accomplished snapshot of its time or whether it can transcend its genre references and become a future classic.
‘Pretty Ugly’ is due out on 9 March 2012 on Kode 9’s Hyperdub label. The launch party for the album is scheduled for 16 March at Fabric in London.
You can listen to Scratcha DVA’s ‘Grimey Breakfast Show’ Mondays to Fridays from 8am to 11am on Rinse FM - Or tune into 106.8 FM if you find yourself in London.