Sunday, 15 March 2020

Ash Walker ‎– Aquamarine (2019)

Genre: Electronic, Jazz, Funk / Soul
Format: CD, Vinyl
Label: Night Time Stories

Tracklist:
01.   Under The Sun
02.   Time
03.   Come With Us
04.   Brave New World
05.   Finishing Touch
06.   Aquamarine
07.   Sanity
08.   I Need Money
09.   Fat King Smoke
10.   Ain't Got You
11.   The Dragon's Cashmere Jumper

When a DJ ventures into making his own, 'original' music, things often turn either into yet another mixtape of songs you definitely know or into a true amalgam of sounds you, again, heard before but you simply cannot put your finger on. Still, your ears certainly enjoy it! 
Luckily for Ash Walker, a seasoned DJ who has plied his trade all over, from San Francisco and LA to Venice and Brixton with The Specials, Aquamarine, his third album is squarely in the latter category. And frankly, that is pure luck for all who decide to take a listen to it. 
I've no idea how many thousands of records Walker has in his collection, but Aquamarine sounds like he has thoroughly listened, well digested quite a few of them. It could be the instrumental tracks like "Come With Us" with its almost unassuming beats and muted trumpet, moving along like late Miles Davis, or the space jazz-like "Brave New World" that sounds like Lonnie Liston Smith produced by Quincy Jones. It could also be the vocal tracks like "Time", or "Finishing Touch" that feature the voice of Laville, that wonder anywhere between Curtis Mayfield and Marvin Gaye. 
But then, throughout, Walker throws in elements literally from everywhere, without at any time sounding incompatible or incongruous. It is like a smooth ride in that submarine on the cover. All you need is Wes Anderson and his captain Steve Zissou and his crew to take you for that ride. 
But then, that seems to be exactly the effect Walker was aiming for. As he puts it, “My previous albums have felt to me more like ventures on land. This one feels more like a deep-sea voyage into the subconscious. Living to dream with visions of grandeur. Manifesting a beautiful path to walk on. It was inspired by everything around me, from friends and family to art and design, engineering and architecture, movement and how we use our five senses. I love to try and push my own boundaries of what I perceive to be right and wrong, seeing mistakes as innovations, and obstacles as inspiration.” 
Still, if you can't get into a submarine, playing this one on a summer boat ride at dusk (or dawn), you'll get the same effect. Excellent. 
Ljubinko Zivkovic  / Soundblab