Tuesday, 23 June 2020

Kassa Overall ‎– I Think I'm Good (2020)

Genre: Hip Hop, Jazz
Format: CD, Vinyl
Label: Brownswood Recordings

01.   Visible Walls
02.   Please Don't Kill Me
03.   Find Me
0.4.   I Know You See Me
05.   Sleeping On The Train
06.   Show Me A Prison
07.   Halfway House
08.   Landline
09.   Darkness In Mind
10.   The Best Of Life
11.   Got Me A Plan
12.   Was She Happy (For Geri Allen)

Mastered By – Mike Bozzi
Mixed By – Daniel Schlett, Josh Giunta, Paul Wilson, Xander Knight
Producer – Kassa Overall
We live in a golden age of storytelling, however chaotic it may feel. Despite social fractures, amoral media platforms, and historical blindness (willful and otherwise), more individuals are telling their stories—in audio, video, words, images, sounds, computer programs, and new combinations—than ever before. Challenging assumptions about who is empowered to tell these stories and how, a more thorough picture of the world emerges, including truths that long lay unacknowledged. With access to a growing range of narrative tools and methods of distribution, the floodgates of rumination have opened—algorithms, copyright restrictions, and genre quarantines be damned. 
So it’s hard to imagine Kassa Overall’s I Think I’m Good as the product of any other age but this one, yet it’s also a timeless tale. A high-gloss, trap-jazz, Auto-Tuned singer-songwriter cycle about multiple consciousness, it’s a fragile diary of a young artist’s escape from the comforts of fear, aided by an incredible community of musicians who have his back. More broadly, it’s a kaleidoscopic cut’n’paste opus that bypasses prior, drier conversations about jazz and hip-hop sharing space—even Overall’s masterful 2019 debut, Go Get Ice Cream and Listen to Jazz—to express something much more personal, yet also universally relatable. 
Some of the greatness of I Think I’m Good comes in the blending of its design and function. The story that 36-year-old Kassa tells, integrating his own lifelong mental-health struggles with the incarceration and subjugation of black America, is in many ways completely novel; even more so is the way he tells it, in expansive song-rap compositions that have the intimacy of bedroom indie-folk murmurs. Until recently, Kassa’s rep rested on being a great young jazz drummer (with an overflow of credits—Geri Allen, Christian McBride, and Arto Lindsay, to name a few—and a stint in Jon Batiste’s band on The Late Show With Stephen Colbert). He also dabbled as a rapper and producer, including collaborations with Francis and the Lights and Das Racist. But his desire to synthesize collective improvisation, electronic production, and rap vocals has been the core of his recent live residencies at New York’s Zinc Bar and the Jazz Gallery, and Go Get Ice Cream approached the jazz/hip-hop discourse from this holistic live-playing-with-rapping-and-electronics direction. It also featured a great song called “Prison and Pharmaceuticals” (chorus: “What’s the best stocks?”) that is a direct thematic harbinger of I Think I’m Good.
Piotr Orlov / Pitchfork

The Colours That Rise ‎– Grey Doubt (2020)

Genre: Electronic, Hip Hop, Funk / Soul
Format: CD, Vinyl
Label: Rhythm Section International

01.   Red Dawn
02.   Home Time
03.   Opacity
04.   Hyper Lace
05.   Orion’s Belt and Beyond
06.   Interlude Sly: 2009
07.   The Juice
08.   Get Away
09.   If I was God
10.   Ghost in the Forest
11.   Atmosphere
12.   Interlude: Interlude
13.   Deep Space
14.   Interlude: Until Next Time
15.   Deep Space (Radio Edit)

Executive Producer – Bradley Zero
Mastered By – Noel Summerville
Project Manager – Emily Hill
Written By, Performer, Recorded By – Nathanael Williams, Simeon Jones

Three years ago, producer duo Simeon Jones and Nathanael Williams put out their first official release as The Colours That Rise, a cosmic-jazz four-track that hurtled towards a subject matter that, in 2017, looked like quite an underwhelming maiden voyage in time-travel: the year 2020. Vindicated though the once-reserved futurists may now be, the 2020 EP was a release that locked them firmly as ones-to-watch within the well-documented burgeoning London jazz world. Future sounds from experimental electronic to ambient and dancefloor were the bookends for an amalgam of nu-jazz and old funk, bounding three years forward and forty years back with musical ease. A record deal with Peckham mainstays Rhythm Section International later, and their debut full-length is enough to justify the excitement. 
Grey Doubt is a “secret history” about black people who live on Mars. “This is a documentary,” opening track ‘Red Dawn’ says sincerely, “about black people living on UFOs… extraterrestrials that actually was black.” Whether TCTR are simple conspiracy theorists or peddlers of a cosmic truth one rung or two up from Murdoch’s most honest publication, what follows is something that cuts out the equanimity from the basement jazz club. Easy-access dub and celestial jazz seep through the live instrumentation and analogue synths, whilst chromatic sax riffs and breakbeat percussion glare with a neon shimmer more akin to Roy Ayers than Charlie Parker. Whiskey and bitters are furloughed for tequila, while Jones and Williams sit above their new civilisation with space suits and jetpacks.  
As with all good documentaries, Grey Doubt thrives when other voices become involved. Features from London’s leading lights Yussef Dayes and Mansur Brown morph ‘Home Time’ into meditative funk, extended through the downtempo Balearic mantra of ‘Opactity’ and pulsing ‘Hyper Lace’. Vocalists Andrew Ashong and Yazmin Lacey are some of the real highlights; gospel-tinged ‘The Juice’ leads the way for degraded Madlib beats, wiry, fuzzed-out funk, ending with uncannily soothing soundscapes of ‘Atmosphere’, into a collaborative dimension where we shouldn’t really be calling this jazz anymore. Playing with reality’s fabric through half-truths and post-truths, TCTR’s Grey Doubt is an afrofuturist wake-up, on which even a 48-minute journey to Mars doesn’t feel too out of this world.
Tristan Gatward / LOUD AND QUIET