On paper, “Please” is a song idea that shouldn’t work: a peppered pinboard of distortion, feedback, whoops, and whistles, off-kilter swing from a dizzying array of percussion, and—somewhere in the thick—the hoarse redoubts of AZADI.mp3, warding off unwanted male advances in the club. But it does work. In fact, it even sounds like a pop song: think Amerie’s “1 Thing,” recorded 15 years after the fact, saddled by existential weight, and given a glitch remix. In this sense, the lead single from God Colony’s debut mixtape is typical of the production duo’s approach, typified as it is by strong vocalists grounded in complex arrangements and club-ready grooves.
Though brief at 10 tracks, CULT still offers a hearty serving of wide-range production, a testament to the London-via-Liverpool pair’s excellent A&R acumen (previous collaborators include creative polymaths Kojey Radical and Gaika). “Joy,” at its best, is a stripped-back, vulnerable reckoning: Sine’Gal’s voice soars unadulterated over keys and, eventually, crashing, glassy drums. “Don’t Ask For Me” wrenches emotion from just a handful of disembodied vocal snippets and firework samples, though it’s hard not to feel hollowed out by the optimism of its opening note, lifted from the dregs of a NYE party (“If the rest of the year turns out as good as today has started, then I haven’t got a worry in the world, mate”). Elsewhere, Samirah Raheem (best known for her viral interview at SlutWalk 2017) delivers slick, sex-positive sermons over a cavernous trap beat on “Girls”; rising south-east London MC, Flohio, is triumphant over drumrolls on “The Real”; and Haleek Maul drawls over icy synths on “Places In My Head.” As midnight manifestos go, this is up there with the best.