Last Cabal consists of Darryl Watson (emcee), Mike Burrell (guitar, vocals) and Mark Thomas (sax). Their 16 track album release, “Vol.1”, is a masterpiece of crossover organic groove, and edgy urban street rhyming. The album is both is both nostalgic and innovative, and over the course of the recording announces itself as untouchable in the current musical climate. In a time dominated by emo rap and auto-tuned mumblers, this record is unlike anything else around.
The group’s pure vision and remarkable instrumental prowess might be at odds with the mass-produced computerized dreck that flourishes on the radio, but their dedication to real-time performance and studio perfection should make them a respected urban music troupe.
Boasting sophisticated and accomplished production jobs, the record’s mix of live instrumentation, minimal programming, and cool vocal and rapping elements is ear candy that cries for multiple headphone listens. But beyond the sound is the astounding quality of the songs.
“Happy Father’s Day” and “All Night” are instant classics, while the single “Back to the Basics” is an amazing and somber work of crossover genius, blending searing rhymes with haunting background vocals and reaching a subtly effective jazz flavor with a groovy saxophone coda.
Few groups working today can match the sheer talent and vision of Last Cabal, not to mention its ambitions and focus. Few hip-hop artists seem to be willing to even attempt something approaching the scope of “Vol.1”. Plus, to be fair, not many will be able to deliver the intense energy and rhyming caliber heard on “Suicide” featuring Chilldoh Muggy.
Last Cabal establish themselves by boldly innovating within the tenets of hip-hop, as tracks like “Piece of Mind” featuring Coax Marie and “Maximum”, shows immense rapping skills, while the versions of “Lambs Wuhl” exposes some more of the group’s stylistic and instrumental stewing potential.
Their sampling prowess comes to the fore on the soulified “Movin”, while “MHC” featuring Chilldoh Muggy brings out the bars of over chillout piano motifs. There is yet another stylistic turn on the head nodding groove of “So I Know” featuring K-tonez.
Each of Last Cabal’s individual sensibilities are utilized in a way that enhances the group’s layered sound, without muffling their unique talents. So much so, that they can even invite features in, without losing their core identities.
This is evident on the eclectic “Runnin”, featuring Shawnthafuture and December Ross, the intense slow burners, “Ill Minds” featuring Mickey Factz, and “Believe” featuring Gabriel Reignbow. The group’s fine-tuned ears are also able to get funky on “Change Your Life”, and then close the album down with the lyrical gem “Every Day is Sunday”.
Last Cabal find a way to thread their particularly tricky needle with “Vol.1”. It’s one of those rare albums that provides something for all types of hip-hop heads, and beyond, without sounding like it’s pandering to any one group.
Moreover, it’s appropriately structured and remains focused throughout its 16 track duration, and this is particularly alluring for a modern listener given the amount of over-bloated albums we’re dealt with on a regular basis. I’m not sure why Last Cabal have gone relatively unnoticed within a currently mediocre industry scenario, but they deserve your utmost attention.