Deep Impressions – Katalyst

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Ashley Anderson a.k.a. Katalyst got 2011 off to a good start, teaming up with Steve Spacek for their Space Invadas project. As great as that full-length was, it had been four years since his What's Happening album caused seismic tremors within speakers and headphones worldwide. Thankfully, Katalyst has come through with the long-awaited follow-up, Deep Impressions. It's a collection of songs that feels more like an expertly compiled mix tape than an album, playing fast and loose with genre divisions. Clocking in at 45 minutes from beginning to end, it's the quintessential Side A of a treasured road trip cassette that flies through the many influences keeping Katalyst inspired these days.

“Day Into Night” kick starts the affair with a lovers rock lean that bears a slightly increased tempo and the gentle coos of vocalist Stephanie McKay. “Prince Of Cool” is bare bones electro that alternates between a halftime crawl and a mid-tempo march, its sparkling synth tones accentuating the sweetness of Jade McCrae's voice. As a producer, Katalyst is all about collaboration and he never fails to surround himself with excellent company. Ugandan MC KweenG stops by for a spirited verse on “Ready To Drop,” a throwback to early '80s hip-hop made especially with the B-Boys and B-Girls in mind. Meanwhile, “U Can't Save Me” finds Buff1 in “please, baby, please” mode, acknowledging the bickering while trying to convince his boo to stay.
It's hard to tell whether Katalyst is having the most fun working with others or on his own. Left to his own devices, the cut-and-paste combinations are absolutely priceless. Take the psychedelic trip that is “Pot Or Pills,” a masterfully layered collage of illicit drug testimonials and flowery rock and soul. “It's A Blast” boasts tough drum kits and fuzz guitars with jagged edges while weaving in phrases from Percee P along with words of wisdom from the late Gil Scott-Heron. “The Clapping Song” is unquestionably fun, reworking the Shirley Ellis classic into a modern-day tale of woe humorously spun by Coin Locker Kid. The '60s soul vibe is so authentic on this one that involuntary hip sways are unavoidable. Deep Impressions delivers with block party enthusiasm and it's hard to go wrong when Katalyst serves up a sonic jambalaya this tasty.