Over the last few years, the music industry has been forces to reinvent itself. There’s many reasons for this. This includes the way people consume and buy albums.

Gone are the days of the vinyl, when it was a case of immersing yourself in the music. You sat and studied the artwork and read the lyrics. Not any more. 

Many people don’t even buy albums. Instead, they buy and download individual tracks. They listen to them on iPods, laptops or docks. Stereos, nowadays, are a relic of a past. Even the way music is delivered has changed.

Nowadays, a generation of artists are releasing their own music. No longer, is it their ambition to be signed to a record label. As a result, more music than ever is being released. This presents a problem. Music has to stand out. True Ingredients realised this when they released debut album in 2008, Prepare and Assemble. 

When True Ingredients released Prepare and Assemble it became the world’s first album to be released in the form of a pair of sunglasses. Instead of releasing CD or vinyl album, True Ingredients created their own sunglasses. They featured their own logo, and had their website address printed on them In addition,  a unique download code allowed the owner to digitally download the album’s MP3s. This caught the imagination of music lovers, including some high profile names. Soon, Coolio, Sean Paul, Mischa Barton, Kaya Scodelario and sometime insurance salesman Snoop Dogg, took to wearing the True Ingredients’ sunglasses. What became known as a the Sunglasses Album was a masterstroke. 

True Ingredients were formed in 2003. Two years later, they released their debut single All Out, in 2005. 2008s Prepare and Assemble proved a game-changer. Suddenly, everyone was talking about True Ingredients. After that, True Ingredients headed out on a series of gruelling tours. As if that’s not impressive enough, True Ingredients have found time to record their sophomore album Through The Lens, which will be released by BBE Music on 21st July 2014. Just like Prepare and Assemble, Through The Lens is no ordinary album.

No way. True Ingredients have a musical philosophy. They believe that there’s more to a timeless album than its songs. It’s about a story that evolves from the moment you buy the album. Everything about Through The Lens is important. This starts with the artwork. It’s meant to inspire the listener and capture their imagination. As for the music, True Ingredient are determined to inspire, energise and captivate, through music that’s described as “socially responsible rebelliousness.” That’s not all.

Through the Lens is another world first from True Ingredients. It’s the world’s first Immersive album. This is possible through the advent of groundbreaking, innovative technology. Now, listeners are able to become part of the music. They can embark on a  journey into the music. All they need to do this, is any digital device or platform. This allows listeners to interact with 3D scenes and videos. They can even remix tracks and manipulate the imagery around each track. It’s a truly hands-on multimedia experience. For a new generation of technology savvy music lovers, the immersive experience of Through The Lens  is sure to captivate and compel. So will the music.

That’s no surprise. True Ingredients have been around since 2003. They’re a London-based hip hop collective. Their current lineup includes vocalists Mr. Milk, Mireilla Sings, Angela, keyboardist Fenna, guitarist Josh Wah, bassist Millzy and drummer Steve O’Gallagher. Two years later, they released their debut single.

True Ingredients debut single was All Out. It was released in 2005. This brought True Ingredients to the attention of music lovers. Soon, they were playing live all over the Britain. Their breakthrough came in 2008. 

This was when True Ingredients released their groundbreaking album Prepare and Assemble. It was released in form of a pair of sunglasses, with True Ingredients website address and a unique download code attached. Soon, many high profile names were wearing True Ingredients’ sunglasses. Suddenly, they were the must have musical and fashion accessory of 2008. This catapulted True Ingredients into the public eye.

Since 2009, True Ingredients have played well over 300 concerts. This includes some of the biggest festivals in Europe. In 2009, True Ingredients played at the Glastonbury Festival and London’s Week of Peace in Trafalgar Square 2009. Then in 2010, True Ingredients played at Bucharest’s Jam Festival and the Access All Areas Festival in Étampes, France. By 2011, the gruelling touring schedule continued, with appearances at  Manchester’s Parklife Festival and the Lovebox Festival. Since 2009, True Ingredients have been familiar faces at festivals throughout Europe. Whether it’s Austria, Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, Romania or Switzerland, True Ingredients have won friends and influenced people. Still, though, True Ingredients have found the time to record their sophomore album Through The Lens, which I’ll tell you about.

The sunshine sound of Smile opens Through The Lens. It’s the perfect track to open the album. A Nu Soul female vocal combines with  stabs of piano and chiming guitar. Before long, it’s all change. A swaggering rap replaces the vocal. Meanwhile, a female vocal answers the call. Big, bold drums, percussion and stabs of rasping horns combine as the arrangement explodes into life. By then, the rap becomes a vocal and a joyous, anthemic track is unfolding. There’s even a Latin influence, as everything from funk, hip hop, Nu Soul, reggae and soul melts into one, to create a hook-laden dance track.

Crispy beats and a wistful piano combine with a thoughtful acoustic guitar on Through The Lens. They set the scene for the vocal. It has a spiritual and poetic quality. Before long, it changes hands and becomes dreamy and despairing. Then when a strutting female vocal enters, things get soulful, funky and urgent. It’s a game-changer, and the track swings. Then, the tempo drops. An impassioned rap takes charge, before a sweet, soulful sets the scene for another strutting vocal. After that, True Ingredients mix musical genres, social comment and hooks seamlessly.

Feels Right sees the tempo drop and an an acoustic vocal accompanying a powerhouse of vocal. It’s gloriously soulful, as it soars above the arrangement. Just like previous tracks, the vocal changes hands and becomes a rap. This coincides with the arrangement unfolding and taking on a rocky hue. Strummed guitars and crunchy beats provide the backdrop as True Ingredients combine their vocal talents to create an anthemic track. 

Just a lone acoustic guitar and bongos combine on Boom Time. Soon, a pulsating beat provides the backdrop for an impassion rap. The lyrics are full of social comment. They’re a plea not just for social responsibility during this “Boom Time” in Africa, but an end to poverty. As Mr. Milk takes charge of the vocal, he’s accompanied by harmonies and a pulsating, pounding Afro-beat arrangement. He becomes the hip hop’s social conscience pleading for an end to poverty, racism and inequality.

Atmospheric, dramatic and rocky describes the introduction to Flying High. This rocky arrangement soon returns. That’s after a vocal masterclass unfolds. It comes courtesy of a heartbroken, frustrated female vocal. It’s truly compelling. You want to hear her story. She’s accompanied by crystalline guitars, hypnotic drums and a buzzing bass. That’s until True Ingredients kick loose. They provide a thunderous rocky backdrop. It’s interspersed by a rap. However, it’s the vocal powerhouse that steals the show and results in Flying High being one of the highlights of Through The Lens.

The sound or a helicopter is accompanied Cease Fire a meandering piano and rocky guitar. Drums signal the introduction of another impassioned rap. It rails against the wanton destruction caused by war. Especially, the loss of an innocent bystander’s life. The rap is a fusion of anger, despair and frustration. Other members of True Ingredients holler “Cease Fire,” as another stabs of piano, blistering guitars and pounding rhythm section combine to create a dramatic, rocky arrangement.

From the get-go So Soul sees True Ingredients combine funk and soul. side. Bubbling synths, a funky rhythm section and chiming guitars provide the backdrop for a rap. It’s delivered at breakneck speed, and accompanied by cooing, soulful harmonies. At the heart of the track’s success are one of the best baselines and glistening, shimmering guitars. They provide a 21st Century disco backdrop that’s akin to a homage to Chic.

Straight away, Left The Hood reminds me of Tom Waits and Chuck E. Weiss. That’s down to the vocal, which sounds as if it’s been honed by a regular diet of cigarettes and whiskey. The arrangement, it’s a fusion of blues, hip hop and rock. A worldweary, lived-in rap is accompanied by guitar, bass, handclaps and harmonies. They veer between doo wop, sixties girls groups and soul. Later, there’s even a nod to Steve Harley and Cockney Rebel’s Come Up And See Me. A blistering, searing rocky guitar is unleashed and proves to be the finishing touch to this mini masterpiece.

Shimmering synths open Wrong War. It’s another song about war. A dubby, impassioned vocal hollers “ignorance, strength you’re the soldier in the wrong war, couldn’t remember what it was for.” This is just a taste of what are some of the most powerful lyrics on Through The Lens. Especially when accompanied by an arrangement that’s a fusion dub, reggae and hip hop. It’s the perfect backdrop for the thought-provoking lyrics.

A pulsating arrangement on Bottleneck provides the perfect accompaniment for another swaggering female vocal. It’s a mixture of power and passion. Accompanying it is another thunderous, rocky hooky, arrangement. Scorching guitars and a driving rhythm section accompany the vocal. Later, a rap replaces it and delivers lyrics full of scathing social comment. After that, True Ingredients combine their unique brand of social comment, hip hop, hooks and stomping rock.

Me I Am has a sense of foreboding. That’s until finger clicks and rap signal the arrival of a powerhouse of a soulful vocal. It’s accompanied by a pulsating bass. Then when it drops out, the rap returns. Accompanying it are a piano, finger clicks, guitar licks and pounding bass. Add to that searing guitars, a stomping beat and that gloriously soulful, vampish vocal. Combine this and the result is a joyous fusion of hip hop, rock and soul.

World’s Gone Mad closes Through The Lens. The arrangement builds slowly. Instruments are dropped in carefully. They provide the backdrop for the vocals and then another impassioned rap. It delivers lyrics full of social comment. Harmonies answer, “that ain’t right, the World’s Gone Mad.” This seems to spur Mr. Milk on, in his never ending quest for social justice. Eventually, the arrangement explodes. There’s a nod to drum ’n’ bass, U2 and even Deadau 5’s Brazil as True Ingredients combine passion, drama and musical genres in their pursuit for social justice.

Through The Lens, which is True Ingredients sophomore album, is no ordinary album. Far from it. It has been described as an immersive musical experience. That wouldn’t have been possible a few years ago. Nowadays, it is. That’s thanks to the advent of groundbreaking, innovative technology. Now, listeners are able to become part of the music. They can embark on a journey into the music. All they need to do this, is any digital device or platform. This allows listeners to interact with 3D scenes and videos. They can even remix tracks and manipulate the imagery around each track. It’s a truly hands-on multimedia experience. For a new generation of technology savvy music lovers, the immersive experience of Through The Lens  is sure to captivate and compel. However, the most important thing about Through The Lens, is the music.

The music on Through The Lens is akin to True Ingredients’ musical manifesto. Their songs are full of social comment. They’re determined to make the world a better place. True Ingredients are frustrated by poverty, racism, war, famine and inequality. They want to highlight these issues. By doing so, maybe, just maybe they’ll make people think about the world’s problems. After all, this generation isn’t as political as previous generation. It’s a long way from the late-sixties and early-seventies. Sadly, nowadays, the world is a much more apathetic place. That’s why musicians like True Ingredients need to highlight these problems. 

Their way of doing this is by mixing musical genres. Ostensibly a hip hop album, Through The Lens veers off in the direction of doo woo, dub, funk, Nu Soul, pop, reggae and rock. The best way to describe Through The Lens, which will be released by BBE Music on 21st July 2014, is musical tapestry. It’s full despair, drama, emotion, frustration, passion and poppy hooks. True Ingredients also ensure that the music is funky, soulful and rocky. Through The Lens is also a swaggering slice of hip hop with a social conscience that marks the return of True Ingredients.

Through The Lens has been a long time coming. Six years to be precise. It’s been worth the wait though. Especially with True Ingredients combining their unique brand of soul, social comment, hip hop, hooks and stomping rock on their sophomore album Through The Lens.



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: