I’ve had a run of acts come my way of late that fall into the broad hip-hop/rap spectrum and who claim to be really pushing the boundaries of what the genre can be as we move forward into a new era. Most, however, has been the sonic equivalent of dropping a hand grenade into the middle of the listener’s expectations and then trying to rearrange the debris into new and pleasing shapes. Sure, you really shake things, and then some, but you also find that the result is normally, well…a total disaster.
Chris Ellenwood has a much more consistent approach. Panic Room is the sound of urban music being intensified, inwardly focused, distilled to its essentials and then used to build a dark, gothic-hip-hop sound…now there’s a new concept. The beat and bounce of the music has enough groove to satisfy the mainstream but it is the back streets that he wanders, collecting unexpected musical details and re-appropriating other genres that make him stand apart from his chart-focused competition.
He blends trippy electronica, sonorous pulsing bass lines, neo-classical piano, found street sounds and fairly progressive structures into his dark and terrible sound. It is sweeping, majestic, chilling and above all brilliantly original and lends itself as much to a live performance as it does to the soundtrack to a street smart-horror movie.