- 29 Jan 21
Having spent four days in a studio back in August creating 'BONUS FEATURES' with his friends, the slick result is a portrait of the Irish talent's explosive potential.
Everyone's favourite rising drummer, producer and rapper - Waterford's Alex Gough - has gifted us with his latest project, crafting live versions of his released tracks and creating new jams.
The young talent is finishing up a degree in music, and recently released his debut mixtape FOREVER CLASSIC to critical acclaim across the board.
Gough's trademark fusion of hip-hop and jazz, paired with an easygoing, self-deprecating wit, showcases itself perfectly on his latest mixtape - BONUS FEATURES (Live at The Clinic).
While at the point of his career where it would be easy to overanalyse each impending release, the young artist instead chooses to illustrate his playful sense of humour, love of live performance and smooth musicality that seemingly comes effortlessly.
Kicking off the mixtape with a captivating drumbeat on 'PRESS START', it's an impressive way of highlighting the feeling of spontaneity within Gough's arsenal. Despite the fact that the tracks are crafted carefully, the same freestyle magic that flows from some of his hip-hop inspirations emanates from BONUS FEATURES.
The opener makes its way into 'FOREVER CLASSIC', the title track from his previous project. Gough's bars talk of creating art that survives into the future, while maintaining a level-headed perspective needed to achieve the type of success he seeks. With a fiery yet laidback lyrical flow, he chooses his words carefully and with purpose.
"I wanna reflect my surroundings / Don't wanna live in the past...Hands bleeding at the thought of never achieving enough..."
The moments of smooth calm make way for the exciting tempo build-up, his confidence as both a drummer and rap artist shining through. With both 'FOREVER CLASSIC and 'That's My Job', the current versions of the tracks are made for live performance. With a comfortable stage presence, the charismatic tracks speak to his generation's difficulties with the modern rise-and-grind lifestyle and pressure to climb your way up the ladder in an increasingly unequal society.
Gough's natural wit is at the forefront of each song on the mixtape. The listener can't avoid hearing the infectious drumbeats and synth melodies that allow his raps to hold a life of their own. The '90s elements seep through each track, but 'That's My Job' especially grips onto this era. With clever quips about the Governmental pressure to contribute to a society that doesn't treat its people fairly, the dreary lifestyle of working paycheck to paycheck and monotony of office work; it's clear that his creativity won't be stifled by the corporate world anytime soon.
"Keep the demons in the loop, tell 'em call me if they want."
A feature on the Normal People soundtrack, 'Dear SJ' is a letter addressed to the deceased Steve Jobs, querying him on the dangerously addictive nature of screens. Gough wants his music to be heard without forcing him to become a slave to social media - a momentous task for a modern musician. "Show me the light and tell me what's right," he asks the dead for guidance. The live version sounds better than ever, and it's clear to see why the track (ironically) connects with such a large group of people experiencing isolation and a crisis of identity. His tongue-in-cheek references and razor sharp lyrics merge with the gritty edge of his drumbeats.
Concluding with 'TECHNICAL DIFFICULTIES' and 'HOW DOES IT FEEL', the instrumental pair breathe new life into the 8-track project. The atmospheric jamming session set a chilled out tone, bringing in new instruments and demonstrate Gough's open-minded nature to his musical development.
The mixtape gives the impression of Gough performing solely for a group of close-knit friends, with that level of beguiling intimacy at the core of both the hip-hop and jazz environments. Keeping his influences close but his Irish roots closer, Gough's star is firmly on the up.
BONUS FEATURES (Live at The Clinic) is out now.