Nga Han and The Co-Operators: Tek a Chance Single Review by Mr Topple for Pauzeradio.com.
Nga Han, hot off the heels of his sophomore album The Living Stream, has for the first time joined forces with The Co-Operators. The end result is a deep-dive into haunting Roots.
Nga Han Tek a Chance, released via Waggle Dance Records on a limited 7” press, sees Han and Bristol, England-based The Co-operators team up with producer Eeyun Purkins. The first thing to note is the quality of his engineering and mixing, and Pressure Mastering’s mastering. The attention to detail here has created a sound that is almost ‘as live’ in its timbre and with a highly analogue feel. The rhythm section is lifted fairly equally, while Han’s vocal remains at the fore. The overall sound is classic and throwback, which is to be commended.
It’s a fascinating composition, across side A. With a fairly slow BPM, the arrangement is brooding and unnerving. Some rudimental Roots devices are used. Peter Storer’s keys run a relentless bubble rhythm in their mid-register, with a decent dose of staccato across the notes. Towards the end they get a solo section, with some nice work from Storer. Purkins’ bass runs a one drop rhythm – but only just, as it comes in on the second semiquaver after the first beat – then focusing on semiquavers and quavers. It’s fairly picked in style, creating some jolting forward motion – which is then compounded by a melodic mixture of arpeggio chords and a diatonic melody. Meanwhile, a rhythm guitar plucks a skank while another runs a countermelody which is almost a motif of the bass – then breaking out into its own, whining and bending solo.
But Purkins’ drums don’t quite fit in the Roots parameters. They avoid a one drop, instead seeing the kick hit every beat, while hi-hats run a semiquaver-based rhythm with occasional flourishes, and the snare fills in the space in between with some military buzz rolls also making appearances. This somewhat forthright arrangement, notably the kick, gives Tek a Chance an edgier, more unsettling feel – and once again creates forward motion. Then, the additional instrumentation elevates the track’s sound above just Roots. Storer’s funky organ uses plenty of blue notes in the opening sequence, as well as some deft engineering via reverb and delay to give it an almost otherworldly feel – before it settles into an embellished skank. There’s a lovely tin drum (or similar) tinkering just out of earshot, as are blocks. Overall, the musical arrangement is smart and atmospheric – but just stripped-back enough to allow Han to deliver a thoughtful performance.
Here, he is stoic yet purposeful. Working mostly around his mid vocal range, he has created a gently flowing melodic line which works around the tonic, up and down – and sticking to it on much of the chorus as well as working down to the seventh, up to the third and back again. His rhythmic arrangement is classic in its construction, utilising dotted notation in the most part – bringing that Roots’ sway in. His timbre is delicate and poised, and he doesn’t make notes overly short or long, playing into the arrangement’s forward motion. Lyrically, Han has delivered a sermon on putting your faith in Jah throughout life: be fearless, “forward-advance” and don’t be afraid to be bold yet humble about your faith while ‘ignoring the confusion every day’ and ‘never wanting more’. “Focus your sights on Zion’s door”, as he says – and his powerful performance and engaging lyrics make you want to do this.
Side B features a Dub by Purkins, which is pleasing. He’s stripped the arrangement back to its bare bones at points – for example leaving the drum and percussion lines standing alone. Additional rhythmic reverb is added in along with compression and decay – and overall, the Dub version is well-executed.
Tek a Chance is a classy affair from Han, The Co-Operators and Purkins. Well-constructed with good attention to musical detail, the mixing and mastering raises the quality of the release significantly.
Han is on-point, and overall, this 7” would make for a lovely addition to anyone’s vinyl collection. But the press is limited – so you’d best get in there quickly.
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Nga Han Tek A Chance Review by Mr Topple / Pauzeradio Pr Services (10th August 2021).