Jazz maestro Robert Glasper is someone I’ve been meaning to get into for the last couple of years. I’ve caught individual tracks from his Black Radio albums, but I’ve never had a chance to get through an entire album.
Earlier this year, Glasper released a posthumous collaboration with Miles Davis, Everything’s Beautiful, and has followed that up with his latest solo offering, ArtScience.
A series of extended jams, Art Science is my kind of joint. At times it sounds like Davis’s In A Silent Way mixed with the latest in dubstep and rap.
The opening song, ‘This Is Not Fear’, lays out the thesis of the album, with Miles Davis’s famous quote about the influence of African American music upon on popular music. This acts as a licence for Glasper to use each track to blend genres, mixing traditional Jazz-style improvisations with soul vocals and dance beats.
‘Day To Day’ has the beat of an old-school funk song, with disco-like strings, while ‘No One Like You’ is a 9 minute epic. Bracketed by vocal choruses, it is a terrific band jam, with Glasper’s excellent blending of electronica filing out the edges. ‘You And Me’ and ‘Tell Me A Bedtime Story’ are slow jams. The latter is especially noteworthy for its use of vocoder which adds a dreamy, otherworldly dimension to the song.
The rest of the track list is built on similarly nebulous territory. All of the tracks display Glasper’s attention to detail and an ability to weigh analog and synthetic elements in a way that feels totally organic. None of the songs are what you could call traditional jazz, yet they also fall outside traditional categories of pop and soul. It is the genre-bending which ultimately makes ArtScience a worthy investment for your eardrums.
A strong recommend.
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