Greentea Peng – Man Made

Greentea Peng’s debut album captures a central paradox from the past year: the compulsion to turn inward, and the need to look outward

Album Review by Becca Inglis | 03 Jun 2021
  • Greentea Peng - Man Made
Album title: Man Made
Artist: Greentea Peng
Label: AMF Records
Release date: 4 Jun

Recorded against the backdrop of 2020’s turbulent summer, Greentea Peng’s debut album Man Made captures a central paradox from the past year: the compulsion to turn inward, brought on by the psychological fallout from living through the pandemic, and the need to look outward at the inequalities that have been brought into sharp focus.

For Greentea Peng, the psychological and tangible need not be mutually exclusive. On Man Made she invites us to broaden the psyche, from her soporific blend of neo soul, jazz and hip-hop to the album’s visual iconography – particularly the Wes Wilson font on its cover – which evokes the 1960s counterculture movement ('Do yourself a favour and eat some shrooms', she instructs in Party Hard). 

The record’s lo-fi scratchiness exaggerates this retro feel, lulling the listener between the synth echoes on Make Noise, the smoky layers of improvised vocals on Mataji Freestyle, and the sinewy flute on Be Careful (which boasts production from grime artist Swindle). 

Yet even as you succumb to the record’s psychedelic textures, you hear a call to arms in its pointed lyrics. 'May Kali’s fire bun ya down', Greentea Peng sings on Kali V2, inciting the Hindu goddess who varyingly embodies darkness, destruction, creation and Mother Earth. In Greentea Peng’s hands, Kali Ma becomes an emblem of a different kind of consciousness raising – the push to resist oppressive forces like racism and sexism, and the healing that can begin when we are rid of both.

Listen to: Kali V2, Nah It Ain’t the Same, Meditation