This week we tackle Doctor Guava’s ‘A Quarter Past’
Doctor Guava is a relatively new producer. Hailing from Houston, Texas; The Doc has been producing for three years. Starting off as a B-Boy in the ODA crew (which he is still a part off), he had always loved music but kept putting off creating because he thought he wasn't skilled enough. That all changed when he went to a beat battle in San Antonio. There he met two producers who gave him the confidence to pursue music. Picking up a sampler and ditching a bad relationship, Doctor Guava began his journey from there. ‘A Quarter Past’ is his latest project but how does this EP fit in into this growing producer’s story?
At first listen ‘A Quarter Past’ can be a little disorienting but as you fall into Doctor Guava’s unique groove a gorgeous picture opens up. The album encapsulates what is so beautiful about free form expression. The beats skitter and bounce. Jumping from smooth lines to chopped up madness all within 2 bars sometimes. However this never feels forced or inorganic. Tracks like ‘Magnumopus’ are beautifully mad. The skittering, chopped lead sample sounds indefinable at times but this is a good thing. Doctor Guava reigns this madness into something coherent and meaningful. No small task when serving the gods of experimentation.
Conceptually this album was forged in the fire of live performance and exploration. Doctor Guava explained a little more about the recent trip that solidified his vision: ‘I've played this set in Australia as all unreleased beats (shout out to Sadiva! I love you!) and there I realised these beats needed a lil extra. So I hit up my dude Humbleweight from LA and boom! Here we are.’
This project is about freeform, organic expression and experimentation. Doctor Guava lets whatever he is feeling flow freely throughout ‘A Quarter Past’ and that makes for an interesting, and sublime, experience.
The feeling of raw experience is further heighten by the atmosphere on ‘A Quarter Past’ All the tracks are set against a thick wall of modulated fuzz. This background warmth envelops the melodics and deepens the sound. Take a track like ‘Full / Empty’. The beat is lead by a wobbly, floating horn and piano interplay. This gives way to a multi chop master work where Doctor Guava intersperses a plucked guitar with the previous melodic lead. Tying this disparate yet lovely collage together is a full, meaty vinyl crunch. The atmosphere moves with the music and keeps these wild lines and ideas connected. Never separating the two and creating a sense of unity for the listener. This project defines the idea of crunchy warmth.
Another huge (but perhaps overlooked) element on ‘A Quarter Past’ is the drum work. With the experimental nature of the album it would be easy to gloss over the drums, but that would be a mistake. They are the foundation of the quality to be found here. Doctor Guava treats his drums with strength and pride. The rhythm section throughout this whole project is tough. The kicks bump, the snares snap with a satisfying crispness and the hats and other percussive elements drive tracks forward in a subtle but urgent way. Doctor Guava clearly has some strong steez in drum processing. When asked about the drum work on ‘A Quarter Past’ he explained it like this:
‘I just always pick different drums. My earlier projects always had the same drums and I don’t know man it seems super one-dimensional to have that. Like there's so many drums that can be prepped the same way and still provide a different feeling. I definitely focus on getting the most of out my drums cause that's what my ears are tuned to. If the drums suck, then the rest of the track will probably suck.It's such a basic thing but like you NEED to get good drums man. It's so essential’
‘A Quarter Past’ is a deceptively beautiful project. At first the freeform performance may be a little difficult to follow but when it all clicks it’s an amazing feeling. The album is about following inspiration and feeling. Doctor Guava infuses each track with its own energy. It's an energy that is impossible to manufacture and is all the Doc’s own recipe. The atmospherics of ‘A Quarter Past’ tie the songs together. Providing backdrop that is as interesting and imbued with power as the concept. Finally the drum work here is incredible. It hits hard but is resolute in its function as the foundation of the sound. The rhythm is truly the bedrock of this astonishing project. ‘A Quarter Past’ is entirely worth surrendering yourself to. The project is multilayered and interesting whilst still being a wonderful project to simply listen to. This is no mean feat. Do yourself a favour and fall into the Doc’s creation.
Listen to ‘A Quarter Past’ here:
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