Paper Tiger – Made Like Us

Paper Tiger – Made Like Us

Even something as plainly titled as “First Track” can still carry a great deal of weight in terms of presenting a positive, brightly layered and booming opening song. It’s the leading opener on Made Like Us, Minneapolis-bred DJ Paper Tiger’s debut album, and it’s the ideal gesture in showcasing the immediate effect music can possess. As both an artist that revels in visual art, as well as aural art, there is definitely a strong sense of perfecting one’s craft on Made Like Us and Paper Tiger does well in serving a terrific slice of electronic fusions.

Before even getting into the rest of the details, on the aforementioned song there’s a chiming, springing, lifting piano melody that beguiles everything that will follow on Made Like Us. It’s uplifting, almost, in the sonic scope it delivers; throughout the two minutes of instrumental music that blends electronic beats with hip-hop tones, the melody is a constant that shines like the rising sun. Everything that ensues afterward is purely an extension of what’s initially brought forward and, while most of the album focuses on challenging the notion of what vocals can accomplish on an electronic album, it’s at the very core, a solid set of music.

Those above mentioned vocals – and they’re firmly embedded in the music’s core as well – definitely alter and modify the sound of the album in more ways than one. Rather than being positioned on top of the awesome beats or even, as some kind of background to the fantastic skill Paper Tiger is capable of, they’re usually at the front of the song. This works as both an advantage and disadvantage because, as good as they sound on some songs (“The Painters Arm”, “The Bully Plank”), they can sound as lowly on others as well (“And the Camera”). The album’s soul is deeply rooted in Paper Tiger’s brilliant musical prowess that, often, you wish it was all revolved around instrumental cuts that the producer/graphic designer created.

Utilizing that eye for art, the album’s liner notes represent separate images for each song, supplemented with the grayscale of black and white colors. The white serves as a silent color that always back-drops the stark clash the black provides. While being able to get into the grime of dubstep on “Make Make”, Paper Tiger drives the beats to the front and only calls on vocals to serve as an added dimension; contrasting a paced bass and jagged beat, they’re Madonna-like sound are an impressive addition. And don’t be fooled either, these are the sounds of a proven veteran that definitely knows how to deliver crushing blows – “The Ritual” is the album’s best reenactment of Moby circa-Play with the use of spectral male vocals and looping drum kits.

There never was any sense of rushing this kind of music onto the scene simply because there wasn’t a call for it. Instead of pushing out an album that wasn’t true to his ability, Paper Tiger can pride himself on delivering an assured debut. Made Like Us is the fruition of it all – the liner notes open with a few words by the producer in hopes that we can all see it as something “pretty cool” like he does; that part has been taken care of tenfold. Strong decisions should be applauded and in a time where DJs are finding it harder and harder to break through, Doomtree knows it has found a worthy resident DJ.

Doomtree Records