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Happiness Mixtape

This is the debut mixtape from the Manchester-based producer, Algernon Cornelius. Inspired by J Dilla’s Donuts, this instrumental album draws on influences from 90s beat masters such as Pete Rock, the RZA and DJ Premier. Cornelius has an eclectic taste, sampling as diversely as Pink Floyd, Minnie Riperton and police sirens.

For the most part, this album is a relaxed head-nodder, teaming catchy hooks with funky beats, spliced with samples. Tracks like ‘Blind’, ‘Saturday Morning Cartoons’ and ‘Fake Fucks’ are more experimental, with unconventional approaches to sampling and production. ‘Saturday Morning Cartoons’ deserves a mention purely on the grounds that it manages to make white noise sound groovy.

Cornelius questions the concept of happiness at the start of the album and returns to this theme at the end with the reflective, piano driven ‘RE: Happiness’, whose style continues into the last track, ‘The Last One’, which features similarly pensive keys, lightened by a skittish beat.

Happiness’s best moments arrive through the upbeat energy of ‘Basketball’, ‘Hare Dog Puppy March’ and the DJ Shadow-esque ‘Axel Grinder’, closely followed by ‘Good Times’, an uplifting riot of brass and beats with a Latin twist. Other highlights are ‘Walker’, with its soulful vocals, addictive riff and nasty bassline, and ‘Desert Sparkle’ for its delicate, twinkling chimes.

Completing the set is the lovely vinyl crackle and emotive, swirling piano of ‘Moon Dance’.

All in all, it’s very impressive for a first release. Definitely one to watch.