2LP, release 19 Jan 2015 (Stand High Records)

Back in 2009, a huge double-sided 12″ vinyl record dropped out of the north-western peninsular of France, from the rainy province of Brittany. A crew called Stand High Patrol featuring a previously unknown MC by the name of Pupajim who sung about “Business of War” and “Television Addict’s” delivered two great vocals over some deadly digital riddims.

Slowly over the past five years, Stand High AKA the 3 Musketeers have dedicated themselves to a handful of faultless and highly desirable releases. Coupled with years of packed out tours perfecting their dub-a-dub style, they now start 2015 with their much anticipated double LP, “A Matter of Scale”.

The moment the needle touches on the opening track “Tempest”, you notice a stark difference in production. Stand High, who usually hit you with their punchy digital business, start out with a jazzy opening of live drumming and a subtle rolling bass line that lends itself beautifully underneath Pupajim’s instantly noticeable and unchanged voice. This is followed by some even subtler trumpet playing, “a storm in a teacup – a tempest in a teapot”. The LP’s journey have begun.

Track 2 kicks in, again with live instrumentation with what sounds like an acoustic guitar, over a much niftier, tuffer 80s’esque digi-style riddim. A very catchy tune tells of “collecting frogs in a bucket “, a possible popular pastime in Brittany? Who knows, or has the lyrical mastermind installed in us another catchy, deep metaphor. Pupajim shows his diversity with a militant style delivery backed by beautiful voice in chorus and bv’s.

“Geography” goes back to that jazzier sound with some sampling and a one-away bass line underneath, where Pupajim upholds his politician stance previously taken in tunes such as Mr Bossman, Television Addict and Business of War. Again the trumpet is touched in sombre form. The delivery is simple and immaculate.

Another conscious lick of the pen produces “Gambling Johnny”, the second of the mid-80s riddims on this monster record. At first it sounds like something more out of the recent Tuff Scout Label camp, but like a lot of the riddims on this album, offers a kind of ‘mini extended mix’ which over time morphes and take you into another realm as they peter out nonchalantly.

Speaking of Nonchalance, Stand High is a crew who seem like they don’t give too much of a f#*k, and they bring a real fresh vibe with this approach. They chose the next track “Sleep On It” as the taster track for the general public, which they smartly leaked out as a music video in late-December 2014. Like “Tempest”, the opening tune on the album, “Sleep On It” is a slow jazzy number with beautiful piano work and a unique under vibe which populates the intensity with Kazi’s ghostly imagery in the video clip.

Digital time again with next track “Routine”, which could be a cousin track of the 2009 tune that keeps coming up, “Television Addict”.

“Overloaded Truck” takes a hop forward in tempo with a fast moving synthesized keyboard providing the foundation for Pupajim to entertain us with a story of a sound system posse, which could be their very own Stand High Sound System which has been completed recently in cahoots with the Roots Atao crew.

“Blue Wax” shows their penchant for hip-hop, a style of music I was expecting a lot more of on this LP, as their live shows seem to include more and more of it. A wicked riddim with a well upfront organ sets the urban tone for just over a minute 45 seconds, and just when you think a vocal is about to pop out, the thing is over.

“Ruckus” hip hops on and the vocal comes straight in, with Pupajim “bigging up” his Stand High Posse, the self-entitled 3 Musketeers. “Puppa Jimmee” unleashes his self-invented, deadly fast chat which flowed like champagne on the first LP. It is a bizarre but unique style of chat which manages to touch on jazz icons such a Dizzy Gilespee, Saxon Sound in UK and of course toasts the crew who make up the Stand High Trio, Selector Rooty Step and FX Guru Mac Gyver.

As we enter Stand High’s “Warehouse” they fling us into modern day France, home of steppas, to the style which is mashing up dance floors in the world’s epicenter of sound system culture. With its dark vibed, sure to mash up dancefloor- baseline, the monotonous melody and occasional quirky injection of tones, and even with a dog bark, this is another feather in the cap for the already well diverse sounding album.

“Style and City”, over a house/technoesque riddim delivers exactly what it says it will, the style of musical genre and the city in which it was invented. You could almost dissect the album for the genres it mentions in this song and find each of them in it.

Finally Stand High Patrol takes you to the “Bridge” and into the “Tunnel” for two hard-hitting, original steppas cuts and maybe an insight into where LP 3 will flow to. Clearly this kind of jazz to steppas record is the first of its kind and is definitely a completely unique LP for all the genres of music it includes. Stand High has served us up a diverse musical journey which I’m sure will still sound fresh for many years to come.

More info:
Stand High Patrol website
Stand High Patrol Facebook

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