Albums / EPs, Reviews

Album Review: Cutting Gems – Cutting Gems EP

Cutting Gems is a name that’s been falling excitedly from the moustachioed lips of…


Cutting Gems is a name that’s been falling excitedly from the moustachioed lips of Cape Town scenesters for a little while now.  Truthfully, it’s not a remarkable feat and one achieved by many others before, and surely, after him without much else to be said of them afterwards. Yet Cutting Gems EP aspires to be the mark he leaves in his wake; separate and distinct.  Self-made Cape Town producer, Jeremy Bishop (formerly going around as B#), is forcefully carving himself a lasting path in startling style.  And what has staying power is the decisively natural feel about the music being made here. His 5-track EP could be considered to be of a craft we’ve seen before, but it’s clear that Cutting Gems EP sways and rocks like an entirely new beast. The result is a dizzying and soulful post-dubstep experience that’s belied only by the precision beat-making and production work that feels like it’s been run over with a fine-toothed comb. 

From the outset, Jeremy Bishop shows off that he is decidedly unconfined to any one genre as he oscillates from one to another from song to song. In some, the soundscapes are fearless: evoking an entire seaboard on ‘In Simonstown’, followed by what seems to be the sound of the first human interaction with extra-terrestrials in ‘Clear Leaves’. 

The EP was released through naasMUSIC who have become full-subscribers to Bishop’s particular brand of pulsing RnB-electro beats. The marriage of the two was particularly fruitful in the technicolour video for ‘Tonight/Baby’ that was the tantalising lead single released earlier this year. ‘Tonight/Baby’ is ostensibly a club banger if we’d ever heard one, yet every movement oozes with a slow sensuality in its ceaseless seduction. The smooth and shimmering production is only the spit polish on an excellent track on which Bishop should be proud to tack his name. It’s on this track that the James Blake comparisons could find credible purchase. The Ashanti vocal sample from ‘U’ that’s been bent out of shape and wrought around undulating layers of beats walk the tightrope between being pleasing or strangely familiar. Yet these comparisons are as easy as they are lazy. Cutting Gems goes on to distinguish himself almost tirelessly on tracks that precede it. 

The vibrancy and unique, homegrown glimmer that ‘In Simonstown’ manages to capture is inimitable. The track blooms guilelessly into a series of feel-good handclaps and buzzing beats that could set a night off just right and acts as a clear stand-out here. It’s set congruously next to the equally first-rate, ‘Clear Leaves’, which builds its tension upon pile after pile of sound that is stretched right until its breaking point. It unhurriedly lopes like a well-timed thriller towards a crescendo that’s all delicate violin samples and spinning rhythms. Once Bishop fully ekes out his enterprise for melding together seemingly dissonant parts into a satisfying whole.  

It’s on the closing track the where the final product has, perhaps, stumbled short of his ambition on this brave EP. The percussion of ‘Ripping On Some’ rocks and rumbles in all the right ways, but never manages to boil over just the way we want it. Conceivably, it could be the only fault in the EP’s otherwise infallible armour: every chop here is precise and every screw has been measured and limited. It’s obvious that Bishop has bled into each track, but at times it is all but enough to give them the life to needed to transcend. 

Notwithstanding this, there’s a subtle reassurance that Cutting Gems is working with all the right ingredients. One of the lines on ‘Tonight/Baby’ is “what you bringin’ to the table looks like so much more” – out of its rather raunchier context, yes, but it’s hardly incidental. Bishop has used Cutting Gems EP to show the heights he sees himself ascending and seeks to paint the vision in vivid colour in just 5 tracks. And, to whatever degree of success he has managed this task, it cannot be easily denied that he indeed has very much more to offer. If we’re to take Cutting Gems EP by its word, it’ll certainly be worth the wait.

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