THE FUTURE-JAZZ DIGEST | 21 FEBRUARY 2020

THUNDERCAT | TOM MISCH + YUSSEF DAYES | MEZCLA | QNA + THEO CROKER | JON HOPKINS

Hello again friends, freaks and fans of future-jazz.

I have returned and I’ve brought with me five fine slices of new music which, like the completely inaccessible beach-front property that was, today, sold for a quid, are as sublime as they are ridiculous in their own charming ways.

From the unhinged swing of QNA + Theo Croker to the Scottish (by way of South America) ambient jazz of Mezcla there’s some very new stuff to get your teeth into. On the other hand, veteran eccentrics Thundercat and Jon Hopkins (pictured) also show up adding slightly more sophistication to their work than some may be used to.

And finally, Tom Misch and Yussef Dayes team up to create something that’s pretty bloody dark but retains all the funk and electronics you would expect from the pair.

So, without further ado, hear more here…

– 1 –
THE CHARM OFFENSIVE

THUNDERCAT: DRAGONBALL DURAG

Californian bass-player / singer Stephen Lee Bruner – better known by his stage name Thundercat – returns with a second single to tease upcoming release It Is What It Is, featuring production from Kamasi Washington and Flying Lotus.

I’ll be honest; I won’t let my wife listen to Thundercat for fear she’ll become impregnated through the airwaves. That’s how sexy his bubbly bass wanderings and sweet falsettos are. And Dragonball Durag is right off his top shelf of groovy, funky, soulful baby-making beats. Just don’t expect any sense from his lyrics.

Further watching: Anthony Fantano (AKA The Needle Drop)’s inimitable review of the track.

***

– 2 –
THE MILITARY COUP

TOM MISCH + YUSSEF DAYES: WHAT KINDA MUSIC

London-based producer / vocalist (and probably the whitest human being on the planet – let alone the world of funk) Tom Misch teams up with pioneering drummer (and Billy Cobham protégé) Yussef Dayes for a new single from an upcoming co-released album of the same name.

Yeah, the minute I saw that this track even existed (let alone listened to it), this was getting featured. You see, Yussef Dayes is simply my favourite drummer on the Future Jazz scene at the moment. I love the way his drums are tuned, I love the way he plays them. Oh, and Tom Misch – a musician I kinda fall in and out of love with – really adds something to What Kinda Music. It’s darker than you might expect from Misch and more ambient. Oh, and listen out for the strings in the second half, which really make this track fly.

Further reading: this appetite-whetting review of the upcoming album on Piccadilly records’ website.

***

– 3 –
THE PEACEFUL PROTEST

MEZCLA: VOLTA

Scottish sextet Mezcla have been causing a buzz in jazz circles for a little while now, earning accolades from The Times and the BBC along the way. A couple of weeks back, the band – led by bass player David Bowden (BBC Young Scottish Jazz Musician of the Year 2017) released debut album Shoot the Moon, from which Volta is taken.

Mezcla means ‘mixture’ in Spanish but somehow that doesn’t quite do this band justice. Perhaps they should have opted for “La Bolsa de Liquorice Allsorts” (which, I believe, is Spanish for “A Bag of Liquorice All-Sorts”), or to use a phrase from their native tongue, “Ma Heid’s Mince”. After all, Volta sees Bowden and his boys precociously combining Latin American, African and good ol’ fashioned jazz influences with such effortless ease, it scrambles my brain. It’s not all ambient, though; keep an ear out for some rasping trumpet from Joshua Elcock in the final third.

Further watching: catch the band in action on their video for the LP’s title track.

***

– 4 –
GUERILLA WARFARE

QNA + THEO CROKER: FUCK’M

New York City’s QNA are a genre-melting (“in the language of jazz and hip-hop” apparently) four-piece whose motto is “Don’t try so hard. Stop overthinking, keep exploring, and stay listening.” Which is nice.

The not-so-nicely-titled Fuck’M features cutting-edge jazz trumpeter Theo Croker and is their first music since their rabble-rousing 2018 debut EP, XII.

For anyone who thought this would be what music would sound like post-To Pimp A Butterfly, I’m truly sorry. I feel your pain. I also thought (hoped/dreamed) this would be the cross-over genre we’d hear for a decade or so. Sadly, what we got was Old Town Road but, hey, at least we also now have Fuck’M – a genuinely exciting mix of two genres with proper jazz and proper hip-hop. Zero fucks given and zero compromise. Thank Fuck(’M)!

Further listening: check out Karoshi from XII for more genuine swing/hip-hop vibes.

***

– 5 –
THE QUIET RIOT

JON HOPKINS: SCENE SUSPENDED

Electronic experimentalist and multiple Mercury Prize nominee Jon Hopkins follows up 2018’s multi-layered, magnum opus Singularity with something altogether more simple. Stand-alone single Scene Suspended features just piano and violin and was, by the artist’s own admission, borne out of “a time of personal upheaval.”

For anyone who (like me) has lost their ABSOLUTE SHIT in a field in the middle of nowhere to Hopkins’ more upbeat dance output, you may find this a little different to what you expect. On the other hand, if you’re a fan of much of Hopkins work with King Creosote (also me), this will be right up your alley. Stripped back and introspective it may be but it’s just as powerful as feeling the beat drop in a 2am festival mosh-pit.

Further listening: Hopkins and Creosote’s beautiful ‘asleep version’ of Hopkins’ Immunity.

***

THE OUTRO

You can find all of the tracks reviewed above in the 45 Revolutions per Minute playlist below or click to access the 45 RPM Playlist on Spotify itself.

If you like what you hear (or even if you don’t), please engage in dialogue with me @45rpm_Reviews on Twitter. And, if you’d like to receive updates weekly, please subscribe to the email list to get these recommendations sent to your inbox weekly.

– SV –

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