The Nine Sessions EP marks the first excursion into hip hop from Nottingham duo Congi, as well as marking their first release with hometown label collective MIMM. This concept project inlcudes their 9 track EP, paired with a 32 page comic book designed by 4 artists from the collective Ink Soup. The comic and album work in tandem to tell a story of the protagonist who is a heist character out to provide by any means necessary for him and his lady. The outcome is a unique audio/visual excursion into a story both felt through the sounds Congi has created through sample oriented beat construct & the artwork from the nine individual artists. Each fragment of the story encapsulates Congi’s prior dub and jazz and orchestra elements lingering with their sample cuts, lush textures and warm percussion choices.
The first track ‘The Escapade’ works well with the artist’s drawings. The sounds reminiscent of rising from bed, early in the hours of the morning. Choice piano keys bounce around the soft drum work and warm tones. I have enjoyed this album on countless mornings and felt as though through listening and reading this graphic novel in tandem, I was able to feel the emotion of the music in the artwork on the first three pages. ’About The 5th’ follows up as track 2 on the EP. This tune revolves around the vocal sample, with a airy almost dreamy atmosphere about it. Progression through this beat details Congi’s production capabilities, with reverse grain chords flowing around a funky bass lick and a clean drum loop. The character’s experience moving from the house to the streets in hopes to find his big score. The sounds mould nicely with the protaganist’s movement through his thought process.
‘The Pursuit & The Shadow’ starts with a retrograde sample from an old film, fititng nicely into the plot of this story unfolding. A darker vibe begins to unfold within this story, meanwhile the music reflects upon this as such with deep pungent bassy kick drums, strings that remind me of the film noir style plot unfolding in this graphic novel. A few vocal samples pair nicely with the almost melancholy vibe of this characters experience. The beat all-be-it intstrumental carries a voice of determination, as the character continues his plot to land his big score. The outro on this tune takes the listener in a completely new direction, as a prequel to track four. ‘Hard Boiled’ offers a light hearted bouncy beat, with lots of movement in the drumwork. Well cut up samples melt inwards with the staggered movement of this tune. It is interesting to find as I read this story and listen through this album that the emotion behind each tune properly fits with the story unfolding. ‘Hard Boiled’ works to shine some light on this story as the main character encounters his lady, and they exchange a moment of love and appreciation.
‘Black & White’ delves into an emmerging conflict within the storyline. More precision sampling litters this track. Atmospherically this tune resembles Congi’s signature obscure use of sounds and creatively arranged chords to create a unique vibe around a beat that is truly unmatchable. I really enjoy how this tune progresses and changes, ending with another vocal sample that ties itself perfectly into the storyline. This track off the EP really transforms upon itself, with a lot of different influences shining through. Throughout ‘Black & White’ the variations in the emotion felt through the tune help tell the story, and at a point I thought I was listening to a different tune. In the nature of this EP, this tune uses a vocal sample at the end to detail the plot and prelude into the next tune off the EP. Track six is entitled ‘Yo Sun’ and I believe this is my favorite off the release. Its bright entrance into the listeners ears is drawn together from the flute sample and warmth from the chords. A solid high hat lays the backbone for the drums in this tune. The percussion usher movement into mind, with bongos and traditional drums paired in harmony.
As the plot thickens in the story with ‘The Mistakes We’ve Made’, the main character must face up to the result of his actions and rise to make things right. The name properly fitting the plot, the sounds dish up a funky infused beat with more classically inspired samples, drum work and chords. Having delt previously with these influences, it is really awesome to hear Congi tie these influences into their new projects, specifically this album. ‘Eva’s Song’ comes in as the protagonist reaches the climax in this story. The woman he loves has been taken from him and the comic depicts his emotional turmoil realizing his actions have endangered the love of his life. Loose snares pitter patter around a collection of different strings. There is a very romantic vibe to this tune. The last tune ‘Woman’s Love’ features som interesting cut up vocals linger around the beat, chopped up female vocals that remind me of Congi’s other works, something I have come to see as a element they favor when producing music. The intro of this tune has the jazzy snare drums and clean kicks you would find in other soulful hiphop beats, with choice chords in the background. This tune when listened to as apart of the comic book, properly reflects upon the mood of the story. Sampled violins reverberate around the atmospheres as it fades out.