Wes Pendleton “Nebulous” (album review)

ILLECT Recordings (May 14, 2012)
Review by Aidan Severs

Recently signed to Illect Recordings and known by a few for his excellent The Paste Up EP (look out for an expanded re-release of that one very soon), Wes Pendleton is a multi-talented creative – producer, rapper AND videographer. You may have heard him inadvertently on Stephen The Levite’s latest album, Bearfruit’s popular Fruit Cocktail album and since he’s also produced for muzeONE, Phanatik, The Ambassador and Lecrae chances are your ears have been blessed before by his beats.

Nebulous is Wes P’s first Illect Recordings release and is meant to be his working through of the issues to signing to a new label with a new audience and direction. From the off, it’s difficult to categorize what sort of release Nebulous is. Is it an album? No, too short (17 and a bit minutes) and it’s blended. Is it an EP? Could be, but then it contains a lot of found sounds. Must be a mixtape then? Not that either; it’s all original beats. This new approach to releasing music is testament to the artist’s creativity – this release is an audio scrap book containing fragments of inspiring music, sounds, verses, collaborations and beats.

Gospel song “Trouble in my Way” merges into a rainstorm before the relaxing vibes and vocal harmonies of intro track “You and Me” lull the listener – evidently this release is intended to provide shelter from the storms of life, both for the artist and his audience. If you’re not watching “New Morning” sneaks up as it’s an extension of the intro – the track bookended by sample’s of Ice Cube’s “It Was A Good Day”. “New Mercies” (which features Young Joshua) is the partner track to its predecessor making it clear that the verses in Lamentations Chapter 3 are on Wes’ mind: “The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.” Guests Serene and Dre Murray stick tight to the brief and the inclusion of their rhymes is extremely cohesive.

The storm motif and the inclusion of bluesy Soul and Gospel snippets continue throughout. A change of mood is signified surreptitiously and simply with the sound of birdsong. To hear everything that is going on a cursory listen does not suffice. Whilst the chilled-out aura might suggest background music, actually the listener needs to be much more involved; only then will you understand why every piece of sound is included. In terms of Wes P’s production sound on this release there’s a clever mix of ethereal sounds and golden age drum beats, sleigh bells included, forming a thoroughly modern sound without following trends.

This “audio scrap book” is extremely well thought out and put together; ultimately we can all relate to its simple message that life can be confusing and difficult but that satisfaction and rest can be found in the love of God – Nebulous: a modern-day Psalm 23? Yeah, I reckon this is how King David would’ve got down if he were about in 2012.

Purchase: Shop for Wes Pendleton and Illect Recordings CDs or MP3 downloads