The story of the co-release Divided Souls starts with the independent record label Philos Records whose mission in artist development and advocacy for creative collaboration is unique for a label of its kind. The achievements of label artists Andrew Andrle aka Derlee and Rhett Whatley aka Daily Bread lead to creations of their own sounds in an ever-growing scene of electro hiphop soul, funk, and chill hop. Both with their own respective backgrounds and styles, Divided Souls symbolizes new progress for their careers, the label's mission, and for the community itself. With both producers realizing individual success in 2016 alone, each discovered a specific pathway leading up to this project.
Creative collaboration like this is not new for the Philos Records label, as we've seen before with singles like "Cold Sweat" between Guggenz and label veteran Artifakts, as well as countless remixes between Philos artists. Remixing of eachother's material played a role in how Divided Souls start, said Whatley:
“I first heard Derlee’s music right before his album “Off The Beat’n Path” came out. I liked his sample selection and layering style a lot, I could tell he had similar roots as me. When his album came out I listened to it on repeat for a couple days, I was a big fan after that. I asked if I could remix the title track from his album, I did, and he liked the result.”
Since then, 2016 has been a busy year for Atlanta-native Rhett Whatley. Noteworthy occurences including the LP release Cloud Conductor coupled with multiple concert and festival dates across the United States. As fate would have it, one of those events was an influential catalyst to this release. Among Whatley's tour dates was an April 2016 concert date in Milwaukee where Whatley and Andrle met for a musical showcase. Also with a very diligent year himself as a student/beat-maker, Pittsburgh-native Andrle was on the brink of releasing an EP entitled Against The Current alongside NYC-based wordsmith Des Brennan. Both hard at work in spring 2016, the conditions were permitting for them to finally work together, Andrle remarks :
After meeting Rhett personally in Milwaukee, and a few subsequent trips to ATL this past summer, we dialed in on his upcoming 'Cloud Conductor'. There seemed to be a particular cohesiveness our styles brought together, displayed on tracks like "Any Kind of Way" and "Knocking On My Door". 'Divided Souls' was the musical progression of this musical kinship.
The success of the Cloud Conductor album and their collaborations therein, like hit track “Any Kind Of Way”, was confirmed by listeners around the world gathering attention from multiple music blogs. They themselves, as well as the community, officially received a foretaste of what they could create should they release a full project together.
This album reminds us that musical collaboration on this scale gets especially complex. Divided Souls harnesses emotional tone color, clever sample inventory, and thoughtful chord progressions creating a ride from start to finish. Opening with pure summertime melodies inside "Warm & Fuzzy", the album subsequently drops into a ride of gooey, distorted synth work and raw beatsmithing of "Sum Luv". There's a good variety in the following tracks like "Hell & Back", which embodies a balance of the upbeat sampling and wonky synths. This track was pre-released and clued all listeners into that this was the tip of the iceberg.
What I like most about tracks like "Nuclear Reactions" and "Don't Go Back" was the diverse instrumentals from blues to soul to New-Orleans-style funk. Impressive was that the sampled and recorded instrumentals were indistinguishable throughout the album. My cravings for heaviness were met by the deep percussion in the concussive track "She Walks Too Slow" as well as the jump-up tune "Happiness Is Only".
There are a lot of hype jams on this album, but I've also come to know both producers for their more chill-out tunes as well. The ending tracks dial the energy back taking us deeper with two conceptual pieces: "Prelude to Solitude" and "Solitude". The prelude to the end of the album is a fitting warm-up to turn down and bring us back to earth. The somber vocal sample put across the line "Days go by in my solitude" took an introspective angle here. This prelude felt a bit more experimental and spacey, which I appreciate after a jam-packed beat adventure. Once I got further into "Solitude", I understood that this track fully deserved a prelude to prepare us for its dreamy nature. The closing track sends us off with a different take on solitude framed by Obeah's vocal sample "I'ma thrive on the solitude".
We called the project 'Divided Souls' because of how diverse the album is and how the energy of the album flows. It starts off light hearted, then gets energetic in the middle, and finished off moody and existential. This release was a full-on collaborative effort between Myself, Derlee, and Jordan at Philos, which is another take on the Divided Souls concept. We all had to give approval before we moved on with ideas for it. We decided to document the making of the album with a 4-panel fold out cassette sleeve that will be available soon.
The execution of Divided Souls is a definitive success for Philos Records and the two producers that have defined something new for themselves. Combining their perspectives under one LP release showed that the microscopic details in beat layering, sample selection and synthesization created a whole that was greater than the two parts. One of the reasons I listen avidly to genres like electronic hiphop soul is that the producers making it constantly push for new concepts in creating this music. Divided Souls is clean and not overpowering, despite its complexity, while providing many chances to interpret what it lays down for the listener. That's my definition of a pleasant listening experience and I commend the two for that. I would not recommend hitting the shuffle button on this one. For best results, listen to it from start to finish as if it were on vinyl.
Get your hands on the album from the link at the top on a "pay what you want" basis. Limited cassettes will also be available soon, so make sure to keep up with Derlee | Daily Bread | Philos Records on facebook