The Bubble Album Reviews, No. 33

BBNG – Sour Soul

Many will have heard of the defiant beginnings of BadBadNotGood covering Odd Future beats in loose trio style for the final performance of a formal jazz education, and have teamed up with Tyler the Creator on youtube as well as releasing four studio and live albums free of charge, reinterpreting hip hop and electronic tunes. After only recently flashing their own compositions on 2013’s album III, they now team up with Wu-Tang’s Ghostface Killah for an album of collaborative jazz hip-hop. Stand out track ‘Ray Gun’ recalls a typical Wu-Tang groove, and also throws a verse to another big name collaborator, MF Doom. A wobbly organ combines with pounding toms and guitar stabs on ‘Mind Playing Tricks’ and the hypnotic chimes and wavering guitar figure on ‘Street Knowledge’ provide an unexpectedly perfect backdrop for Ghostface’s punchy flow. The trio has expanded; jazz guitar takes a central role on the album as well as some horns cropping up on final track ‘Experience’, and the meandering strings and tip-toe-ing vibraphone of the instrumental track ‘Stark’s Reality’ seem to owe as much to Bernard Hermann’s mysterious Hitchcock soundtracks as to the band’s obvious hip hop influences. Indeed, to describe this album as a hip-hop album wouldn’t give nearly enough credit to BBNG’s quality song writing and playing on the album, where jazz harmonies float and shift mysteriously behind Ghostface’s forceful rapping. Ghostface himself is still on fine form, his loud aggressive style fusing seamlessly with the BBNG backdrop. BBNG seem to be truly bang in the middle of the much explored hip-hop/jazz genre at the moment, and continue to make their own unique sounds dipping into any influence they want.

Romare – Projections

From just the first few tracks, a variety of shuffling rhythms already make you want to see this guy put together a DJ set. One of those top quality sets that will never make you settle and constantly take you in a different direction. That’s what this album is about, pushing forward in his own bouncing rattling direction, Romare’s infectious African influenced drum patterns and stream lined production catch you straight away.

Gently pattering first track ‘Nina’s Charm,’ pulls you through to a very danceable beat on ‘Work Song’. Elsewhere there’s a sparkly synth pattern over a trudging drumbeat on ‘Ray’s Foot’ and a squelching synth over a 4×4 club beat on ‘Roots’. The influence of his African studies is rhythmically apparent in many of his tracks, but there’s melody too – the jumping airy melody of ‘Motherless Child’ and soft hum of ‘Jimmy’s Lament’ amongst echoing claps and a vocal sample. Soulful vocals and squealing synths in ‘Lover Man’ move into groovy jazz-house numbers ‘Rainbow’ and ‘Prison Blues’.

Having switched drums and guitar for turntables upon moving to Paris, his productions caught the eyes of Bonobo, and Gilles Peterson and his Brownswood label, and his debut release for Ninja Tune is a quality one: the mark of a guy doing exactly his own thing in a very assured way. If you’re quick enough, grab a ticket to see him with Floating Points at the Audio Asylum x Dimensions Festival night at World HQ in Newcastle on 23 April.

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