Roughly a year after his Kodak Dreams LP Submorphics returns to The North Quarter with Newport Magnetic: a six-track project that sees the Detroit native reinvent his trademark lo-fi take on Drum & Bass. While looking to the future and growing artistically on this project, Submorphics continues to drawn inspiration from hazy rare grooves, resulting in a refreshing showcase of his creative vision.
Since the label's inception, The North Quarter has become the home of top-notch Drum & Bass, and Submorphics' EP is nothing short of outstanding. As such, it was only right for us to invite him for the latest installment of The Extended Cut. Below, he takes us track by track through the EP, highlighting the inspiration and creative process behind each.
How to listen: There are a couple of ways to proceed. First, you can listen to the whole album, which you will find below, and then read the notes. Or, read the notes as you listen to each track. This will completely change your perspective on the whole release itself and bring you closer to the artist and their work.
Words by Submorphics
Newport Magnetic is the follow-up to my Kodak Dreams LP - a nostalgic and conceptual album that was an homage to classic soulful hip hop and older liquid funk. Following such a lengthy project that didn’t care about the present or future, Lenzman and I decided it would be great for me to roll out an EP that looked forward both in terms of its production and sound design while retaining the melancholic chords and melodies that have defined my music in the past. We also wanted to focus on some new featured vocalists to the label - and we couldn’t be happier with the cast of people involved in the project!
This one started when I laid down some late-night soulful keys inspired by loads of Bristol ‘90s trip-hop I had been listening to in a Youtube rabbit hole during Lockdown 1. I later layered in what I considered more classic Detroit pads; something about the influences of Bristol and Detroit just appeals to me! I’ve always wanted to include a message of “turn off your phone and vibe to this” in a track - it’s perhaps a slightly unusual message in a modern club tune. For me, this is one of the less obvious tunes on the EP - but I’m pleasantly surprised to see it catching on.
Guided By Venus Ft. Ras Tweed
I love a good reverse synth melody - there is just something about them that is always so trippy and unique to me. Running with this reverse synth aesthetic, this one took on a part dub, part deep electronica vibe. There were a few ways I could have approached the vocal - but I thought it would be wicked to bring in OG Ras Tweed to do something with a smoked-out reggae flair. As a huge fan of old Soul:R stuff I’ve always wanted to get this man on a track; the texture in his voice just oozes soul. A guitar riff soaked in spring reverb and delay had to be added to really capture this sound.
Let It Shine Ft. Satl & VEDA BLACK
Satl and I always work together quite easily - we both are full of ideas and if something isn’t working we move on to the next idea. But this one was working quite well! Starting with the chords and top-line melody, we wanted to create a hands-in-the-air uplifting soul vibe that was hopefully cheese-free. This tune sat around for most of 2020 as a strong instrumental before VEDA BLACK was discovered by Lenzman and brought in to attempt a vocal. I don’t think anyone could have anticipated how amazing the vocal she delivered would be - but I’m so thankful this tune came together in the way it did. Definitely a career highlight for me!
Sometimes a good riff is all you need to carry a tune — and this riff happened to have some unique minor chords as well. I added an Intalex-inspired synth melody over the top and it just worked - sometimes the simplest ideas can gel the most. Analog 80s synth pads still send me to the moon whenever I hear them!
This one is perhaps the most “classic” sound on the EP but with a modern twist. Amens, strings, and a filtered Reese channel a heads-down melancholic vibe. Created in one night, this one just wrote itself as tunes like this often do. Take a journey into the void...
Live With The Pain Ft. Phat Kat & Steo
Phat Kat is the legendary Detroit legendary rapper responsible for some of J Dilla’s most classic tunes - and as he was a friend of a friend - the option to bring him into the fold was an idea Lenzman and I had after a night of brainstorming. Luckily it all worked out better (and faster) than we could have imagined - and it’s always wonderful bringing a seasoned US hip hop MC into a genre that owes so much to hip hop. Steo’s soulful crooning was added to the melancholic analog-yea-futuristic chords and melodies and a neo-soul roller with a message was born. Very happy with the unique combination of influences this one brings to the table on an EP celebrating classic soul in a modern and future context.