It's been a quiet six years for Kano.
As Kane Robinson he appeared in Top Boy, a Channel 4 drama where he flexed his acting ability after a third album that had failed to capitalise on the energy left by his sophomore, London Town, and debut, Home Sweet Home.
Back as Kano with a fourth record, Made In The Manor is already being touted as Robinson's best. A deeply personal release that openly explores subjects only touched upon in the past, its production draws from grime, bass and at times hints at heavy metal.
What connects the dots between albums one to four is Kano's burgeoning interest in the production techniques of dance producers. From Germany, to the States to right round the corner in London, we take a look at Kano's electronic influences.
Melé has spoken of how a collaboration with one of his grime heroes has been a dream come true. The Liverpudlian producer was 19 at the time of their hook up on "Beamer", a club track that Kano hopped on in 2012. Melé has since gone on to produce 'New Banger' on Made In The Manor - top draw friendship.
LuckyMe’s most elusive alumni appears on the opening track of Made In the manor. "Hail" launches with a sharp, jarring guitar that lays itself over the gong of a church bell and anthem sized drums. Rustie’s production isn’t often lent to lyrics - D Double E and Danny Brown have been granted the privilege in the past - but Kano’s "Welcome To The Jungle" greeting is the only acknowledgement "Hail" needs to confirm its message of power.
German electronic fiddler Boys Noize produced four of the thirteen tracks on Method To The Maadness. "Get Wild", a collaboration with grime don Wiley and dancehall artist Aidonia, has Boys Noize’s inimitable dark and seedy undercurrent to it, but there are peaks and troughs to the tracks. Beats and lyrics don’t seem to flow concurrent, at times jostling to take precedence. It's like a new pair of jeans; look great in the shop, take a bit of time to wear into at home.
Chase & Status
Taken from Method to the Maadness, "Spaceship" sounds like a trial of the electronic/drum and bass hybrid that Chase & Status were toying with in between their first and second albums. Not quite here, not quite there, Kano’s tone over a hyper aggressive sound bed only mark the progess made between the new album and its predecessor.
At times, Made In The Manor comes across like a collaboration compilation than a reflection of Kano's talent. However, where it shines best is in 'All and All Together', a hook up that's flavoured by sachet of Hot Chip style oddity. "All And All Together" feels like something that could be slipped into a rumba class, melodic and spacious, its production strung out and unfussy as the Hot Chip beat syncopates with Kano’s most personal lyrics on the album.
Kano and Diplo released their debut albums in the same year, though whereas Home Sweet Home is the a cornerstone for Kano's career, "Florida" is an overlooked body of work by a producer known for smash hits. During 2005 Diplo was making transatlantic connections with the likes of Major Lazer originator Switch and M.I.A. His work on "Reload It" is distinctly American, harking back to Beastie Boys and the flamboyant scratching of the 90s. We'd love to see what the pair would come up with now.