Tonight was one of the best nights I’ve had in a very long time and I feel that sharing it with you and FINALLY updating the blog is probably the best way to keep celebrating. I won’t go into too many details about the reasons why I have been M.I.A. for so long but let’s just say that one of them was a general lack of inspiration and motivation. You know, shit happens (excuse my French). Tonight though, I feel a renewed sense of belonging, a revived faith in the power of music and desire to share it through my words. It all started with a long overdue meet-up with my Word Is Bond family before the gig. Obviously you don’t really care about my personal life, but all I wanted to say is that it was a breath of fresh air for my mind and everyone’s motivation and excitation was contagious. It’s difficult to feel down and idle when you are surrounded by people who are so active and enthusiastic about what they do. They reminded me about myself when I started the blog and I finally got a glimpse of hope, reminding me that everything was still there, waiting for me to be ready again. The time has come, ladies and gentlemen, and I couldn’t be happier about it!
Now, the best part of the night was of course seeing Oddisee on stage for the first time and I have to say I am still high and energised by the amazing show I witnessed. Oddisee is an artist I have a lot of respect and appreciation for, even though I don’t know all about his career and releases. While I am more familiar with the producer than the MC I have always enjoyed all the music I heard from him and I was really anticipating witnessing his “live” prowesses. Not only did he blow my mind with his lyrical dexterity, but he also exuded an incredible positive energy that made it impossible for me not to smile and enjoy myself. Sharing the stage with amazing musicians who also happen to be some of his best friends, he created a very intimate but welcoming vibe that allowed everyone to feel like they were part of a family. I don’t go to too many hip-hop shows, especially these days, but this one reminded me of the time I saw Ty (also at the Jazz Café), in terms of exchange with the audience. The whole point of doing a live show is to get to share with your listeners and it is always wonderful to feel uplifted by the music and to have your mind, body and soul moved by the artists and their energy.
I didn’t know all of the songs he did tonight, but whether I recognised them or not, I was equally entertained and touched, unable to suppress smiles and head nods for the whole duration of the show. In addition to Oddisee’s perfectly seamless and versatile flow, which was most breathtaking during his freestyles, as well as his lyrical mastery, what really impressed me was the quality of the live band. All the musicians were not only truly gifted, but they had smiles on their faces and danced all through the evening.
Special mention to Olivier Daysoul, incredible musician and vocalist who really blew me away. I knew about him and already loved his music, but seeing him doing his thing on stage made me appreciate him all the more. His cover of MJ’s Can’t help it was on point, as was his revamped version of Long Distance Relationship. Also, as a very nice surprise, the legendary Omar blessed the mic for a song and made the night even more memorable for me. Last but not least (actually first guest of the night), UK MC Tranqill really impressed me with his rhymes and flow, leaving me wanting more. Going back to the very start of the evening at Jazz Café, I need to give props to Eric Lau who was on DJ duty and set the mood just right with an excellent blend of soulful hip-hop that allowed me to get an early start on the head nod. All in all, this was one of the best concerts I have ever attended and probably a life-changing moment (no, I am not exaggerating).
Since I forgot to bring my camera recorder, I will leave you with “non-live” music from Oddisee and urge you to go see him if he is coming to a town near you. Enjoy and don’t forget to support his music. My signed copy of Rock Creek Park on vinyl makes me happy and it should do the same for you, even if it’s not signed and it’s not mine. You can also get People Hear What They See via Mello Music Group.
I know this is not brand-new and you probably heard about it already, but I’m sure you’re eager to read what I have to say about it. Right?! Ok, so I’ve been following Eric Lau and his releases for a little while and I really appreciate his production. It is therefore always a pleasure to hear he has a new project out. I was also fortunate enough to interview the London-based producer for Word Is Bond a couple of months ago and he had very interesting things to say. With The Mission EP, Eric Lau teams up once again with Guilty Simpson, after a first collaboration on For The D back in 2007 and I have to admit the two of them form a winning team and obviously enjoy working together. The combination of the MC’s voice and the producer’s music may leave some skeptical on paper, but the EP proves that it actually works extremely well and they complement each other perfectly. Coming back to hip-hop production but sprinkling it with touches of soul, jazz and funk, Eric Lau proves his versatility and the extent of his talent. To make the project complete, he added the incredibly beautiful voices of Fatima and Olivier Daysoul, that make some of the tracks slightly emotional and enchanted my ears, as well as the skills of musicians Chris “Daddy” Dave, Alex Bonfanti and Damu The Fudgemunk.
Introducing The Mission EP by asking are U Ready, Eric Lau catches your attention immediately and the epic instrumental with heavy drums gives your head a will of its own, while your ears appreciate the lovely synths and get ready for 17 minutes of aural pleasure. You will actually not stop nodding your head all the way through, thanks to some amazing drums and catchy instruments. It is then time for Guilty Simpson to enter the stage and explain what The Mission is. As his seamless flow rides the head-nodding beat, the Detroit MC emphasises the need to stay humble and be grateful for what he has, while representing his home town and making sure he’s the best at what he does. After this statement, he is joined by Fatima and her gorgeous voice, and asks you Can you feel it? on one of the most soulful and beautiful tracks of the EP. He expresses his gratitude once again and how thankful he is for his life, reminding us that there is “not a second to waste” in this life and that “experience is learning from mistakes“. Those little gems of inspiration are much appreciated and fit the mood of the instrumental perfectly. Chilling for a bit, the MC then takes some time to Burn It Up on a very funky beat with a gorgeous bass that hypnotised me and made me want to burn one dance the night away. The lyrics are as laid-back as the instrumental and in true hip-hop fashion, Eric Lau introduces some samples that will be quickly recognised by hip-hop and soul heads (including D’Angelo sexy vocals, that make the music all the more sensual). After this smoking break, Guilty Simpson comes back with some great story-telling and the atmosphere gets a little bit darker with the beautiful piano. On He Said, She Said, the MC deals with failed relationship and karma, when miscommunication and different desires are tearing people apart. Probably the most personal track of the EP and one of my favourites, Yesterday is a way for the Detroit native to reminisce over his childhood and remind people that they shouldn’t take anything for granted. The lovely and emotional piano notes emphasise the reflective mood of the lyrics, while Fatima and Olivier Daysoul’s voices are simply heavenly and add even more depth to the track (those harmonies at the end left me speechless). Remembering friends lost to gun violence, Guilty Simpson shares yet another gem that people should keep in mind: “whatever it is, you better say it now“, as you truly never know what tomorrow may bring. Finally, Eric Lau ends this amazing EP with a most beautiful outro, where the gorgeous piano and jazzy vibes will help you reflect on the previous song and its lyrics, while giving you an irrepressible itch to press replay. Music that great is addictive, I have to admit.
In case you want to know even more about The Mission EP, listen to Eric Lau as he discusses the project and showcases some of the instrumentals.
I know you are dying to get your hands on this EP and I don’t blame you! You can get the vinyl from Kilawatt or hhv.de, among others (that includes bonus tracks) or download it on Bandcamp. If you are really in a hurry, simply click on the link below and enjoy.
I have to admit it’s not ‘brand-new’ but I have a very strong tendency to get side-tracked and overwhelmed, which results in my posting absolute gems a little while after they were released. I hope you, Eric Lau and Kilawatt won’t be mad at me though, because as I have to say regularly, ‘better late than never’. Right? Right! So, I discovered Eric Lau’s music quite late, if we consider all his previous releases, but I quickly became a fan and am now following his work quite closely. After the very interesting Kilawatt: V2 EP and his previous album Makin’ Sound, Eric Lau is back with an incredible sonic exploration, entitled Quadrivium. Based on a book dealing with the correlation between geometry and arts, this new project has a slightly different sound than Eric’s previous endeavours and this is a much welcome shift, as it is a confirmation of the producer’s talent and ability to always develop new skills, to experiment with his music. Twenty tracks add up to create the overall atmosphere, taking us on an aural and emotional journey to different dimensions. I always say that music has a very strong power to make you drift away and escape from reality but some albums underline this element even more, which is indeed the case with Quadrivium.
From the very first notes of Star Trekking to the very last ones of 4U, Eric Lau makes us travel through different moods, genres and emotions, always creating very interesting patterns and using many different instruments to produce the desired effect. This is one of the things I appreciate most with this album, this ability to add many tiny details without making the tracks sound too heavy or all over the place. Piano, synths, guitars, flutes, percussions, glockenspiel, violins, the list of instruments used on every track is quite eclectic and all those combine perfectly to create a sound that is quite original and innovative. There are many tracks that I absolutely love, for the purity and beauty of the notes and melodies, as well as for the emotions they are filled with and I will mention a few, which I find quite amazing. In Paradise sounds perfect to my ears and the title really fits this incredible, very emotional track, which enchanted me with the warm sounds of the piano, violins and flute. Orchid, with its hypnotic guitar loop and beautiful keys really took me to another dimension. Vu Ja De, with its delicate piano and chilled vibe, is the definition of feel-good music. Lzy, with the warm and smooth jazz and soul elements really has a late night kind of vibe to it. Finally, 4U sounds like the perfect conclusion to this project, with its heartfelt dimension and mesmerising piano, which make you want to have a special someone to dedicate it to. All I need to add now is that Quadrivium is a must in any music lover’s collection out there and that it will most probably get you caught you up in the same way it did for me.
To tell you more about the concept behind this album, I’ll let Eric Lau himself talk, with this very interesting video, where he shares some great ideas and insight.
And you can now stream and buy the album on Kilawatt’s Bandcamp or simply by clicking on the link below. The album is also available on vinyl through hhv.de and Access Hip-Hop. Enjoy the journey, support and spread the word!