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Album Review: Supreme Cuts – Whispers in the Dark

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From the bang-banging hubris of its fledgling MCs (Chief Keef, King L) to the kinetic bricolages of its footwork DJs (Rashad, Spinn), Chicago music has been pumping out blogosphere-stirring music at an especially quick clip over the past few months. But one Windy City act whose work has flown relatively far under the radar is the electronic duo of Supreme Cuts, who, after releasing last fall’s Trouble EP and producing various hip-hop tracks for cloud-rap spitters like Haleek Maul and Main Attrakionz, have just dropped off their debut full-length, Whispers in the Dark, a 48-minute synthesis of the hazier sides of Chicago house, juke, footwork, and more.

Like many a young and impressionable producer before them, Mike Perry and Austin Kjeultes share an affinity for genre-jumping and especially an urgency to keep things moving. This is evident at every corner of Whispers in the Dark, and it’s usually a major asset. Following the near-tribal stampede of “Lessons of Darkness (Apology)”, “E2” amounts to an airy, female-vocal-sampling bite of Clams Casino, while certain rhythms on “Sherm” and the title track get to snappin’ and trappin’ like the bass-heaviest strands of modern Southern rap (indeed, both Kjeultes and Perry can be seen rocking Ferrari Boyz tees in press photos). Later, aqueous downtempo and jittery R&B invade “Ciroc Waterfalls” and “18th”, respectively, rendering Whispers a warm amalgamation of sounds and styles.

The misfires that appear here are usually due to a temporarily deteriorated sense of pacing and sequencing. The five-and-half-minute “Belly”, for instance, builds beautifully, expanding and contracting with washes of drums and bass – before falling off a little too fast just past the 90-second mark and failing to regain its footing. Even so, Whispers at its best offers every reason to anticipate Supreme Cuts as a force in their chosen field – even if that field’s exact location, as it were, remains to be fully seen.

Essential Tracks: “Sherm”, “E2”

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