More Heart Than Brains is a creation that has been steadily evolving for many years and across vast distances and comes to our ears now as a fully formed and glistening piece of work. Bike For Three! is the collaborative project of Belgian based electronic producer Joelle Phuong Minh Le (Greetings From Tuscan) and Canadian rapper Buck 65. It all began when Phuong Minh Le found Buck through his Myspace page about two years ago and then sent him a piece of music to write lyrics to. As he explained in a recent interview I did with him (coming soon), he was so taken with the quality of this first and fully formed piece of music she's given him saying "It was was extremely flattering to me that somebody would give me their absolute best best and would push themselves beyond anything they had done before." This first song inspired a blissfully productive series of creative exchanges with Phuong Minh Le delivering shimmering electronic landscapes, all fully formed and unpredictable in their direction, for Buck to weave his intricate lyrical musings. The result is a highly personal and tender opus and probably some of the best things this MC has delivered.
The two artists conducted this creative exchange for many years but have never met. This way of making a record could produce disjointed music with both artists working separately but actually More Heart Than Brains is the opposite. The obvious mutual respect that Terfry talks about is clearly what has driven these songs and what makes both elements merge perfectly. It has also driven each artist to rise to eachothers high standards. Phuong Minh Le's compositions are simply stunning. With an exquisite attention to detail she crafts elaborate vistas built around downtempo beats surrounded in bristling textures. They rarely end up where they start and even though she first approached Terfry the task of matching these compositions with lyrics must have been a daunting one indeed. But it's one that Terfry rises to with equal confidence.
Being presented with such pure and beautiful music has brought out some of the most personal and revealing lyrics he's ever penned. Phuong Minh Le's music stands in front of him like a mirror from which intimate reflections of love and life emanate with arresting honesty. Can Feel Love (Anymore) picks through the wreckage of a broken relationship and all the time Buck's chorus lyrics are shadowed by a subtle and effect laden female voice that only confounds the loneliness. This loneliness is seen again on Nightdriving where Buck's often seen persona as a loner in a strange land takes place in a city at night. The music here gleams like never before reflecting the light that bounces over nighttime urban surfaces. His flow is also severely challenged by this music. This is seen to dazzling effect on one of the albums many highlights There Is Only One Of Us. This song starts with a female intake of breath, as if about to speak. It continues on a steady beat with the lyrics ambling along but then rises on a wash of synths to finally drop into a drum and bass formation with little warning. Buck's tempo excellerates on cue and the whole thing just launches with thrilling pace.
Since 2005's Secret House Against The World it's been pretty tricky to predict what Buck 65's going to come out with next. The following Situation was a highly conceptual album that seemed to rely more heavily on hip hop beats, but it put him in a place that was hard to come back from artistically. This collaboration has proved a wise move for him, taking him out of his one-man-band comfort zone into unfamiliar and yet rich territory. As each artist raises their game, reacting spontaneously and honestly to the creativity of the other, More Heart Than Brains sounds almost like a live feed in an artistic bounce off. It's the sound of two individuals trading intimate thoughts over time and distance and you really can't help feeling honored to be allowed to listen in.