My Heart Beats Like A Drum
‘My Heart Beats Like A Drum’ is Nathaniel Pearn, aka Natural Self’s glorious second solo longplayer for Tru Thoughts, and a more appropriate album title you’d be hard pushed to find.
Tinkering with synths, falling in love, opening up to the ways of avant-garde composer Steve Reich and singing on DJ Food’s ecstatically received comeback EP; a distilled account of the past year in Natural Self’s life gives an insight into some of the inspirations running through the modern, melodic and powerfully understated sound of ‘My Heart Beats Like A Drum’.
Anyone familiar with the forward-thinking producer’s dazzling way with a beat will testify that an instinctive, bold use of rhythm has always been at the very core of his music. And while his finely crafted rhythms continue to move and shake, on this mature, progressive and sonically evolved LP, you’ll hear a more emotional, human aspect rising to the surface in the melodies, compositions and vocal tracks (featuring French singer Elodie Rama), lending fresh depth to the Natural Self style.
Natural Self’s 2008 album, ‘The Art Of Vibration’, turned on tastemakers including Mark Lamarr (BBC Radio 2) and Gilles Peterson (BBC Radio 1), with international support including heavy playlisting on Radio Nova in France; his remix of Lizzy Parks’ “All That” was handpicked as one of the BBC 6Music Funk & Soul Show’s upcoming highlights for 2009. Natural Self is the co-writer and vocalist on “The Illectrik Hoax”, the lead track on DJ Food’s much-praised “One Man’s Weird is Another Man’s World” EP; and with label-mate Nostalgia 77, was recently the subject of a full page feature in Wax Poetics, under their collaborative Broken Keys moniker.
On ‘My Heart Beats Like A Drum’, the funk and retro influences of last year give way to a more experimental palette of future-looking electronica and synth-based sounds, sitting happily alongside the likes of Paul White and Bullion (both of whom have recently done killer remixes of Natural Self tracks.) Interwoven with pristine multi-layered harmonies from Elodie Rama, and intriguing compositions, ‘My Heart Beats Like A Drum’ is the sound of an awakening; an arrival at a state of maturity; of a man’s emotional journey intersecting with his creative path and creating a ripple of inspiration that runs through the music on this album like a silver thread. “It was the start of something really special”, is how Pearn describes the experience of collaborating with and getting to know Rama, who is also revered as the singer with the extremely popular French hip hop group Hocus Pocus. Sparks fly on the Rama-voiced “Midnight Sun”, and on listening to the title track – a duet featuring the vocals of both Pearn and Rama – it is easy to see all of a sudden the magic that can happen when love, life and music collide.