Friday, 2 April 2021

The Jahari Massamba Unit ‎– Pardon My French (2020)

Genre: Jazz, Funk / Soul
Format: CD, Vinyl, FLAC
Label:  Madlib Invazion

Tracklist:
01.   Je Prendrai Le Romanée-Conti (Putain De Leroy)
02.   Les Jardins Esméraldins (Pour Caillard)
03.   Un Bordeaux Pré-Phylloxéra (Pour Le Riche Enculé)
04.   Deux Fakes Jayers (Aussi Pour Le Riche Enculé)
05.   Riesling Pour Robert
06.   Du Morgon Au Moulin-À-Vent (Pour Duke)
07.   Trou Du Cul (Ode Au Sommelier Arrogant)
08.   Etude Montrachet
09.   Le Feu (Pour Belluard)
10.   Merde (Basse-cour)
11.   Inestimable Le Clos
12.   La Closerie (Pour Ptrévost)
13.   Hommage À La Vielle Grande (Pour Lafarge Et Rinaldi)

Credits:
Co-producer – Karriem Riggins, Madlib
Drums – Karriem Riggins
Instruments – Madlib
Mastered By – Jason Bitner
Mixed By – Karriem Riggins, Madlib
Recorded By – Karriem Riggins, Madlib
Translated By – Emile Omar, Lisa Donnadieu
Written-By – Karriem Riggins, Otis Jackson 

Madlib is a blur of an artist, a perpetual motion machine who often seems more invested in process than product. As soon as he’s sculpted something discrete, he tends to put it down and move on. In that way, Madlib is forever onto the next one.

His latest album, a collaboration with the drummer Karriem Riggins, echoes that restless forward momentum. Madlib and Riggins have been producing music together for several years, but Pardon My French marks their official debut as a duo under the name Jahari Massamba Unit. Riggins, who has also played and produced alongside J Dilla and Robert Glasper, provides a barrage of expressive drums, while Madlib is credited with all other instruments. On its face Pardon My French is experimental jazz; in its execution it feels like a beat tape.

Throughout Pardon My French, Riggins gives Madlib a sandbox of percussion with which to experiment, and some tracks feel legitimately exploratory and free. The opening “Je Prendrai Le Romanée-Conti (Putain De Leroy)” seems to stumble forward in the dark with random runs, hums, and interjections. “Les Jardins Esméraldins (Pour Caillard)” jogs briefly into and out of view, just over a one-minute swell of a crescendo.

In rare cases where we hear an extended solo voice, it is often fidgety and murmuring. “Trou Du Cul (Ode Au Sommelier Arrogant)” rattles around like a top: Riggins’ tight shuffle of a breakbeat keeps the track spinning, Madlib’s off-kilter sounds—a weird whistle or kazoo here, a random cuckoo clock there—threatens to blow it over. Part of the thrill of freeform jazz is to hear a musician lob a note without a full view of where it will land, and listening to a record like this is to buy into that uncertainty and observe a sort of controlled chaos. Madlib is credited vaguely as responsible for all instruments besides drums on Pardon My French—whether or not he’s literally playing these instruments is both doubtful and beside the point—but his approach is grounded in pulling all the strings at once.

Unfortunately, there is also a chunk of the album that skids into indefensible noodling. “Inestimable Le Close” and “Du Morgon Au Moulin-À-Vent (Pour Duke)” are longer explorations during which Madlib seems to get bored. Other tracks benefit from a more straightforward attack, like the jazz-funk romp “Hommage À La Vielle Garde (Pour Lafarge Et Rinaldi),” whichocks into a pre-defined groove, a Madlibesque take on the theme to Idris Muhammad’s famous “Loran’s Dance.”

All of the song titles nod to Madlib’s fascination with wine. “Riesling Pour Robert,” named for a German wine guru with a cult following, takes a linear and precise attack with a random outburst of horns near the center. “Etude Montrachet,” an ode to one of Burgundy’s most famous Grand Cru vineyards, is appropriately luxurious, and a more traditional beat. But it’s exciting to hear a musician like Madlib untethered from the moment, and a testament to Riggins that he can create this type of space in the first place. Pardon My French is not always immediately gratifying, but it’s always moving towards something.
Jay Balfour / Pitchfork